A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 07

A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 07

City of Manchyr,
Duchy of Manchyr,
Princedom of Corisande



The Blood of your slain Prince cries out from the very stones of your City! The boots of the slaves and lackeys of the Monster who shed that Blood march through your streets! The voices of Apostate Priests speak in your Churches! The Defenders of the True Faith are driven into silence and hiding!

How much longer will you endure these Insults? These Affronts to both God and Man? How much longer . . .

Paitryk Hainree frowned in concentration as he considered the composing stick and the current line of type. As a silversmith, he was a skilled engraver, but he’d discovered (not to his surprise) that there were very few similarities between engraving and typesetting. For one thing, he still had trouble reading the mirror-imaged letters. There was no problem identifying each letter as he took it from the proper pigeon hole of the job case (although he still had to look to be sure it was the proper pigeon hole), and it was easy enough — ahead of time — to chart out which letters had to go where on the composing stick before they were transferred to the form and bound together. But his brain still persisted in reading each word as he set up the type, and he’d discovered that it tried to trick him into reading the letters in the “correct” order instead of in the reversed order they had to go into for the press.

Still, it wasn’t an impossible skill to acquire, and if it wasn’t the same as silversmithing, there were similarities. He’d always liked the detail work, the concentration on the little things, working with metals, the fine coordination of hand and eye. The printer’s was a different art, but it was still an art, and he’d found that the part of him which had never expected to become a street agitator treasured the retreat back into an artisan’s role, even if it was only temporary.

He reached for the next letter, and behind his focus on the task in hand his mind was busy. This broadsheet would be transported from the carefully hidden basement press through a network of dedicated supporters. Copies of it would be tacked up all over the city by tomorrow night. Of course, parties of the City Guard would be busy tearing them down by the following dawn. Not all of those City Guardsmen would agree with their orders in that regard — Hainree was sure of that — but they’d obey them. The “Regency Council” and that traitorous bastard Gahrvai would see to that!

Hainree discovered his jaw was clenching once more and ordered it to relax. It obeyed . . . after a fashion, and he drew a deep breath. Just thinking about Sir Koryn Gahrvai was enough to send rage pulsing through every vein. Gahrvai’s effortless defeat at the hands of Cayleb Ahrmahk and his army could have been put down to mere feckless incompetence. In his more charitable moments, Hainree would even have been prepared to put at least some of it down to simple bad luck, or to the fact that Shan-wei looked after her own. But Gahrvai’s decision to actually accept command of the traitorous forces prepared to do Ahrmahk’s will here in Corisande had to make a man wonder. Had he truly been simply unlucky, or incompetent, or had there been something more sinister at work? Some quiet little understanding between him and the invaders?

Had his treason against Corisande and the House of Daykyn begun only after his defeat . . . or before it?

Most of the time, Hainree was willing to accept that Gahrvai’s present position was a case of opportunism after the fact, not an indication of treason before the fact. And he’d realized, even without Father Aidryan’s gentle hints, that accusing Gahrvai and his father of having plotted with Cayleb ahead of time would be . . . premature, at this point. In the fullness of time, that might change, especially as the debate over exactly whose hand had hired the assassins to strike down Prince Hektor and his eldest son matured. Personally, it seemed obvious to Hainree that those who’d profited the most by the prince’s murder were those most likely to have planned that murder. And, taken all together, he couldn’t think of anyone who’d profited more heavily than the members of the “Regency Council” set up to govern the princedom according to Ahrmahk’s demands. They could call themselves Prince Daivyn’s council all they wanted to, but that didn’t change who they truly answered to . . . or the fact that they’d somehow managed not simply to survive but to come out with even more power than they’d had before.

Nor did it change the supine surrender of the princedom’s parliament, Hainree thought, scowling down at the composing stick. He supposed it was unreasonable to expect Parliament to defy Ahrmahk’s will, as dutifully expressed through the “Regency Council,” with the Charisian Viceroy General Chermyn and the better part of sixty thousand Charisian Marines occupying Corisande. Chermyn had twenty thousand of those Marines right here in Manchyr, and while he’d made some effort to avoid parading them too blatantly through the streets of the city, everyone knew they were there. As did the members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. So, no, it wasn’t surprising Parliament had voted to give Ahrmahk everything he asked for.

On the other hand, there might well be a difference between what they’d voted for and what they really intended to do. By all reports, Parliament would be breaking up shortly, with all of its members returning to their homes, out from under the eye — and the bayonets — of the occupation. It would be interesting to see what happened then. He knew the hard skeleton of organized resistance had already come together here in Manchyr, and his own contact from that skeleton assured him the same thing was happening outside the city. It remained to be fleshed out with sinew and muscle, but those other things would come in time. And not all of them from sources Hainree might have expected. In fact, from a few stray words his contact had let drop, Hainree strongly suspected that the resistance’s leadership had already made discreet contact with several members of Parliament, as well. No doubt they’d planted quite a few equally discreet seeds that would bear fruit in due time.

In the meanwhile, Paitryk Hainree would concentrate on cultivating and fertilizing his own little plot right here in the capital.

* * * * * * * * * *

Hainree was far too intent on his work to have noticed the tiny device perched in one corner of the basement’s ceiling. Even if he hadn’t been distracted by the printing press, it was extremely unlikely he would have seen the thing. It was the next best thing to microscopically small, although even at that, it was larger than some of its still smaller brethren, and if anyone had told him what it was capable of doing, he would have dismissed the claims as something out of a fairy tale.

Unfortunately for him, he would have been wrong, and later that evening, in the far distant city of Cherayth, an imperial guardsman with a fierce mustache and a neatly trimmed dagger beard leaned back, eyes closed, and rubbed the scar on his cheek with a thoughtful finger as he contemplated the imagery that tiny surveillance platform had transmitted to him.

I’d really like to pay a visit to Master Hainree, Merlin Athrawes reflected without ever opening his eyes. He and his friends are getting just a little bit better organized than I could wish. On the other hand, we’re building up a pretty detailed organizational chart on them. Of course, it would help if we could tell someone in Corisande that we are, but I suppose you can’t have everything.

He grimaced sourly at the thought, yet he also knew he was correct. He didn’t like how much of his own — and Owl’s, and Cayleb’s, and Sharleyan’s — time was being consumed by the project, but he’d spread his SNARCs’ remote platforms thickly throughout the Corisandian capital. As each member of the emerging resistance cadre was identified, one of the parasite platforms was assigned to him full time, and these people’s internal organization wasn’t nearly as sophisticated as it could have been. Aidryan Waimyan — and there was someone Merlin really wanted to have a word with — had done his best to instill a cellular organization, at least at the very top. Unfortunately for him, he had to make do with what was available, and at least some of his . . . associates were too direct for that sort of sophistication. They had far more enthusiasm than professional detachment. And, as far as Merlin could tell, very few members of the Earl of Coris’ intelligence services had so far been co-opted by Waimyan.

Of course, we don’t know how long that’s going to last, now do we? he reminded himself.

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


37 Responses to A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 07

  1. Douglas says:

    Oooohhh!!! Patrick(Paitryk) Henry(Hainree)! This is gonna be good! Parallels to America, or what? And a silversmith – will Pahl Rivyre be showing up?

  2. john says:

    Is it just me or does it seem a bit wordy? It seems to be a taking a while to get to the point and to action…

  3. Mario says:

    It is rather boeing up to’ this point. Homer sleeps

  4. Jeff Ehlers says:

    Uh, this is only snippet 7. This might be ten or fifteen pages in.

  5. Joel says:

    Every year, with every new publication, Weber gets wordier and wordier. Not that I’m tempted to stop reading his stuff, at least not yet. I’ve noticed this trend in other authors, too…an author becomes successful and the publisher loses any hold that they might have once had on them to require rewriting.

  6. Mario says:

    I think John is right. This beginning is veeery slow in fact

  7. Rekes says:

    Americans were insurgents to the British and freedom fighters to their own. In this war, Charis cannot afford to have Corisande free, or at least not free and with a significant military. Eking out some military production from Corisande will be hard enough to deal with once the insurgents target their own craftsmen in order to stop arming their occupiers. But, as Merlin so often notices, the sophistication of Charis’ enemies pales in comparison to the professional and more refined order instituted amongst more modern practitioners of the art of war, holy war, propaganda, research and development, sailing, trade, and espionage.

  8. Damon says:

    Another classic example of someone making political decisions in the heat of passion and without adequate information. It will be interesting to see how DW resolves the political unrest in Corisande.

  9. Lars says:

    @4 Charis cannot afford to have Corisande an enemy, but free? yes.

  10. Peter Z says:

    It strikes me that Father Aidryan is playing with fire. He is giving commoners real political potency. I don’t think this was true under the House of Daykyn. Could not this movement turn into another experiment in a more democratic republic, an experiment that Paitryk Hainree’s name sake also participated in?

    In the end it doesn’t matter to Charis if Corisande is independant or a vassal state, so long as that nation is at worst neutral to Charis. What better way of ensuring that an independant Corisande remains neutral than to encourage a greater democracy? The Church will not like that one bit and work to revert it to a more proper form of government. Eventually Corisande will be incorporated economically into the Empire, if not politically.

    In answer to Damon @5 we may see greater parallels with the American Revolution, culminating in something very different than any other government on Safehold. Something like Siddermark but not really.

  11. Rekes says:

    @6 The particular definition of freedom I choose in this case is related to political freedom in terms of actionable defiance to the Empire. While Corisande may be allowed sovereignty, their decisions must necessarily be curbed to prevent the violation of Charisian interests while Charis fights the other 2/3rds of the planet. Corisande isn’t the Empire’s friend and will not be short of the Church admitting the assassination of their Prince. Thus the least harm that Charis must inflict upon their disarmed enemy is to keep him disarmed.

  12. laclongquan says:

    The trick to read Weber is that you just skim over any part you feel too wordy. Sure, sometimes you missed something important, but wth, that’s what reread for. If it’s not worth a reread, then you dont miss anything important anyway.

  13. Summertime says:

    How do Princess Irys and her little brother, the King-in-waiting, fit into a Democratic Corisande? Very likely the Princess and the people of Corisande will find out the truth about the Church’s role in Hektor’s demise and the little Prince will become King of a client state in the Charisian Empire. Is there a royal bachelor somewhere for her to marry?

  14. jgnfld says:

    @4 The freedom fighter insurgency context only goes so far. There was also a civil war going on between the continentals and the tories.

  15. Maxim says:

    Peter, In Safehold there is no such thing as democracy.

  16. Maxim says:

    I mean the concept of such a political system has never been invented.

    There has neven been ancient greece. Rome never existed.

    And even if such concept would exist, I do not agree that greater democracy would be the best way to ensure that Corisande remains neutral. Charisian Empire does not have control over the instruments of the democraty to influence the political developement in such way. There are no NGO’s (Non govermental organisations), no media, public opinion is formed completely different.

  17. Peter Z says:

    Maxim, Siddermark comes close in so far as representation for the will of the governed. It is precisely that representation that Clyntahn fears in Siddermark. Providing another form in Corisande will not only cause problems for the G4 but also the secular rulers of the church alliance nations. The idea of being forced to address the will fo the governed is anathema to those despots and autocrats. So what if the concept doesn’t exist and never has existed on Safehold. It existed in the Terran Federation’s history and that experience is available to Charis.

    My primary point is that such a form of government would find very few supporters outside of Charis and so would tend to encourage close ties to Charis if it is ever formed. BTW, such an outcome would follow the parallel of the American revolution more closely. As we have all seen when DW gets this obvious in his parallels (St. Just and Rob S. Pierre), he is rather faithful in his execution of that parallel.

  18. Damon says:

    Ultimately a benevolent authoritarian regime like an empire ruled by a hereditary king is going to be more useful to Nimue’s goal of changing Safehold simply because it is far easier to convince a single unchallenged ruler of the course of action necessary than it would be to convince an elected body that has to answer to a whole range of special interest groups.
    Does anyone else wonder where the Chisholmian or Siddermarkian armies got all of this implied experience in military operations? In a world so top down, with most real power exercised by a church oligarchy that has a vested interest in a peace that generates the smooth flow of tithes to the church, just who is going to be ALLOWED to make war by the church and in the process possibly interrupt the flow of payments?

  19. jgnfld says:

    @15 It was stated in an earlier work, I forget which, that Siddarmark had been quite expansionist for some time (centuries?) and was only recently blocked by a treaty forced on them by the church which was accepted but not without some bitterness.

    Maybe someone not at work has the refs…

  20. Michael says:

    @15 Democracy on Safehold would indirectly serve Merlin’s mission no matter what short term policy decision that .gov would make simply by virtue of it’s destabilizing influence. His mission is to change the distrust and fear of change itself, as the cornerstone of the Church is ultimate conservatism. No change, no advancement, no innovation that could eventually lead to an industrial revolution and the attention of the Gbaba. Democracy… the empowerment of the people, and the belief that they CAN change things for the better by their own efforts is a powerful weapon towards that goal. Even if the democracy in question originates as an enemy of Charis. Heck, that could even be an advantage. A ‘radical’ king that Nimue convinces toward progressiveness will just find himself put on the chopping block by his populace if they’re not ready for it.

    Keep Merlin’s current affiliations and friendships separate from his Mission. He does, painful though it certainly will eventually be.

  21. robert says:

    Actually there is a more interesting non-Siddermarkian political entity in existence where some democratic institutions exist, or at least are nascent. Remember that the Charisian Empire has a parliament. What we are seeing is a parallel to the British and European parliaments of the late 16th and 17th centuries. This is where the seeds of representative government were planted, not in the Greek or Roman versions. When the slogan about no taxation without representation came along, the reference was to the British Parliament, not some uh, wayback entity. Weber’s Patrick Henry has come along, in that time, well before the very politically mature patriots of the colonies. He is, at best, an Elizabethan era rebel rather than an American/George III era rebel.

  22. robert says:

    And Elizabeth’s enemies were beheaded…

  23. Peter Z says:

    Robert, your points gloss over Michael’s excellent post. Expand his post a bit. Charis will if it is willing to cede sovereignty to a prior enemy establish that their philosophical defense of individual liberty (the responsibility of the individual to choose to do good vs such a choice being dictated to them) is more important than temporal/political power. The fidelity they believe this will be juxtaposed against the cynicism of the G4.

    People may disagree with the notion but no one will believe that Charis is simply mouthing platitudes. Such a fidelity is very like Cayleb’s integrity as described by Nahrmahn; a very dangerous diplomatic weapon.

  24. Damon says:

    I am not really convinced that expanding democracy is the optimum method of bringing about change in Safehold. Democracies tend not be very militarily expansive (expect in so far as that military can be used to expand the economic opportunities available to their economic elites), and much of Safehold isn’t going to change to an alternative church that might be more accepting of technological innovation outside the Proscriptions without imposition by force.
    After all, one of the single biggest “accomplishments” of the American Revolution was the American Civil War. The British Empire had abolition of slavery imposed upon it by a government with a strong ruler (abetted by a parliament). Americans had to kill a few hundred thousand of their neighbors before even a semblance of the elimination of slavery could be accomplished.

  25. Peter Z says:

    I suspect that Cayleb agrees with you, Damon. Yet, his Empire may well be aided in its effort to change the rest of Safehold with one experiment in representative democracy born in faithful adherence to principle. At least I hope that’s how DW will play this. Otherwise, he has just used an American patriot’s name as a red herring. This would be cause for feeling a bit betrayed in my book. I will probably like his results anyway while feeling betrayed, so no biggie either way.

  26. robert says:

    @20 Peter, I do not mean to gloss over Michael’s post. I just agree that there is no historical, racial, cultural background that would allow it to evolve naturally. The great political writers of our 18th century did not/do not exist. Were the young prince to return, Paitryk Hainree’s cause would wither away. Give the parliamentary system time to evolve and to expand its power and Safehold will see the development of democracy. For good or ill — there are posters above who believe both.

    I would like to also point out that DW’s use of names does not mean we should take things too literally. We consider that our Patrick Henry was a patriot and was his own man. He was certainly a rabble rouser, and after the Revolution he did not remain in America. His loyalty was toward a cause, not a country. This Patrick Henry is something of Aidryan Waimyan’s dupe (and he is also a bit of Paul Revere, Silversmith no?). And he is learning to set type. Ah ha Ben Franklin?)

  27. Peter Z says:

    All valid points, Robert. DW will take whatever parallel that exists in his books to whatever lengths suits his purpose. I simply suspect that Merlin will encourage an innovative mindset no matter where it may spring forth whether it is directed to social, technological or philosophical subjects. As he said to King Haraald, Merlin serves the future where humanity as a whole is more than just the subjects a a chosen few. To achieve this many types of thinking need to be challenged.

    The more different types and sources of innovative thinking the better, because that increases the chance that one of these sources will escape the crushing boot of censorship and repression. Kind of like Shan-Wei’s seeds.

  28. RobertHuntingdon says:

    PZ, I rather had to laugh at your mention of DW being “rather faithful in his execution of that parallel”. Really? It seems to me that he does a very good job of making you think that’s what’s going on — for quite awhile in fact — and then he completely flips everything on its head and laughs at the outrage of people who knew they’d been “cheated” by not getting the ending they were expecting.

    In fact, I’d say he positively delights in doing just that. In many ways Weber’s books are filled with red herrings.

    So while yeah it COULD work out the way you propose, my money is on this being yet another red herring that we will endlessly debate anyway and all be wrong about in the end.


  29. Peter Z says:

    Please, Robert, don’t destroy the delusion….er…cloudlike illusions of a poor benighted idealist. Allow me to dream about authorial fidelity and the novel that could be before the actual novel comes and pleasantly shatters that dream:-)

  30. rafael says:

    in the American revolution the sides were divided into approximately 1/3 rebel 1/3 neutral and 1/3 loyal being the first armed civil war in the US

  31. Daryl says:

    As Weber himself uses to great effect in the Honorverse, often so called democracies are anything but. In theory the UK is a constitutional monarchy but it is much more democratic than say The People’s Republic of China, or the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea to name just two. A free press and freedom of expression are integral to true democracy even though it does allow the nutters free rein, thus education is also important so sufficient citizens are well enough informed to distinguish between the loonies and those with some common sense.

  32. Rekes says:

    “The Blood of your slain Prince cries out” is a Biblical reference to Cain and Abel. Where in the Writ is this?

    @28 Education is important. Sadly my nation seems bent on values of wealth and popularity to the point that those with power allow education to be neutered by the career system and those who need educating are not in an environment that makes them want it. If there is one advantage to tyranny it’s that a tyrant, while wanting to stay in power will not act like a tyrant, is still capable of choosing not to compromise in the face of obvious stupidity.*

    *Tyrant in this case is a blanket term for singular authority as opposed to its various forms, i.e. Fascism, monarchy…

  33. Peter Z says:

    @29 Rekes, tyrany by definition limits the number of contributors to the direction of the polity. That limitation means fewer people are invested in the polity. That also limits the potential innovative solutions, solutions Safehold despirately needs to defeat the Gbaba. On a purely pragmatic level tyrany as you define it is the worst form of government to develope a winning strategy against the Gbaba.

    What is needed is very open form of governemnt, governing societies who are convinced that the threat is real and commit totally to the proposition that humanity WILL survive at all costs. No closed form of government will get as much out of poeple, will free the innovative “can do” spirit which resides in every human being into a winning war strategy against the Gbaba.

  34. Rekes says:

    @30 Tyranny is not the worst form of government. Any government can become a place for abusers to gain power, it is just that tyranny is the most obvious about it. The worst form of government is anarchy. As to innovation, the minds of men do not always depend on a benevolent government to think. Leonardo da Vinci lived in a time of kings, tyrants, and religious men not unlike Safehold’s state. The assumption that innovation and government are related is invalid, rather that both exist and may encourage each other to new ends. Weber’s not going to keep Safehold in the dark forever, but there is a time for everything and now is not the time for a completely open government when survival is the stake. It may sound good to die for freedom, until you realize that the world won’t stop when you do.

    Weber’s a closet monarchist anyways.

  35. robert says:

    @30 He loves the trappings of monarchy, all the royalist titles and the addressing people as Lady this or Sir that. But if he is a monarchist, he is at least a constitutional monarchist.

    Actually the worst form of government (is anarchy any kind of government?) is the one in which the population is deluded into thinking that they have anything to say about governance…no matter who they elect/select, but in reality they have nothing to say. In this United States he with the most money has the real power, even if “he” is not a real human person.

    Delete that last sentence from your minds. We should not get into this.

  36. Rekes says:

    @32 Yes. Corporate law will kill us all.

Leave a Reply

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