A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 19

A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 19

He unfolded his hands and very, very gently, reverently, caressed the huge book lying closed in front of him.

“Here, my children.”

He spoke so softly those farthest from the pulpit had to strain to hear him, yet still his superbly trained voice carried clearly.

“Here,” he repeated. “In this Book. In the word of God Himself, and of the Archangels he sent into His world to do His work and to carry His Law to us. Here is where we will find truth.

“And yet,” his voice gained a little strength, a little power, “as Langhorne himself warned us would be the case, the truth is not always pleasant hearing. The truth does not always come to us in the guise we would prefer. It does not always tell us we have been correct, that it must be someone else who has been in error, and it is not always safe. It demands much, and it brooks no self-deception. If we fall from a tree, the truth may be a bruise, or a sprain, or a broken limb . . . or neck. If we do not heed the word of God in time of peace, if we ignore His truth in times of tranquility, then we must learn it in the tempest. He will send His truth in whatever form He must in order to make us — His stubborn, willful, self-absorbed children — hear it, and that form can include foreign warships, foreign swords and bayonets, and even ‘heretical’ priests forced upon us at sword’s point by foreign rulers.”

The silence was as deep, as attentive, as ever, yet it had changed, as well. It was . . . harder, tenser It was wary and watchful, holding its breath, as if the people behind that stillness were aware he was about to say something he had never before been permitted to say.

“The Holy Bédard tells us in today’s scripture that Mother Church is not the servant of Man. That she is not to be perverted and used for the vain, corrupt ambition of this world. That she is to be kept without spot or blemish. We do not wish to believe she could ever be anything else. That God would ever permit His Church to fall into evil. Permit His great lamp to become a source not of illumination, but of Darkness. We cry out in anger if anyone dares to tell us our wishes are in vain. We brand those who tell us such things can happen to Mother Church with every vile label we can conceive — blasphemer, heretic, apostate, excommunicate, accursed of God, servant of darkness, spawn of Shan-wei, child of evil . . . the list goes on forever. And yet, much though it grieves me, bitterly though my heart weeps within me, it is not the ‘heretics’ who have lied to us. It is not the Church of Charis which has become the handmaiden of Shan-wei.

“It is Mother Church.”

A deep, hoarse almost-sound of protest swept through the congregation. It was bone-deep, filled with pain, and yet no one listening to him found the words to give that protest shape and form. No one cried out in rejection. And that failure, the fact that the protest was inchoate, unformed — a cry of grief, not one of denial — told Tymahn Hahskans a great deal about the sheep of his flock.

Tears burned behind his eyes as he felt the conflicting tides sweeping through his congregation’s hearts. As he recognized their sorrow, the fear not simply of what he had already laid out before them, but of what they sensed was yet to come, and the soul-deep dread which was the precursor of acceptance.

“I am not the only one of Mother Church’s priests who has longed to cry out against her oppression,” he told them. “Not the only one of her loving children whose eyes have seen the corruption growing and festering at her very heart. There are more of us than you may ever have guessed, and yet we have been ordered to keep silence. To tell no one we’ve seen the blemishes growing, the chimney of her lamp begrimed. To pretend we haven’t seen worldly power, wealth, and the pomp and secular glory of princes become more important to those charged to keep her safe and clean of spot than their own duty to God and to the Archangels.”

His voice rose, gaining steadily in power, touched with the denunciatory power of the visionary, and his dark eyes flashed.

“We have been ordered — I have been ordered — to keep silence about all these things, yet I will keep silent no more. I will open my mouth, and I will tell you, yes. Yes! My children, I have seen all of those things, and my eyes, made sharp by sorrow and disappointment, have grown disillusioned. I have seen the evil hiding beneath the fairness of Mother Church’s surface. I have seen the men called to the orange who have turned their back upon God’s true message, given the hearts not to God but to their own power and ambition. I have seen her captivity, and heard her cries for succor, and grieved for her bondage in the dark hours of the night, as have others, and our hearts are heavy as stones, for if she can give harbor to corruption, then surely anything can. If she is not proof against evil, then surely nothing is, and there is no hope in us. No help for us, for we have failed the Holy Bédard’s great charge, and God’s own Church has been defiled. Mother Church herself has become the doorway of evil, the portal for Shan-wei’s dark poison of the soul, and we — we, my children! — are the ones who have let that terrible, terrible transformation come to pass. By our silence, by our acceptance, by our cowardice, we have become the accomplices of her defilers, and do not doubt for one moment that at the end of all things, we shall be called to account for our most grievous faults!

“And yet . . . .”

His voice trailed off into stillness, and he let that stillness linger. Let it build and hang heavily, filling Saint Kathryn’s like some throbbing thunderhead, pregnant with the very rakurai of God. And then, at last, after a tiny eternity, he spoke again.

“Oh, yes, my children. . . and yet. The great ‘and yet.’ The glorious ‘and yet’! Because God has sent us hope once more, after all. Sent it in the most unlikely guise of all. In the words of the ‘apostate,’ in the division of the ‘schismatic,’ and in the teachings of the ‘heretic.’ I know how shocked many of you must be to hear that, how dismayed. How frightened. And yet, as I examine the doctrine of this ‘Church of Charis,’ I find no evil in it. I find anger. I find rebellion. I find denunciation and defiance. But none of that, my children — none of it! — do I find directed against God. Or against the Writ. Or against what Mother Church was ordained to be and, with God’s help, will one day be again!

“I do not say the Empire of Charis came to our shores solely out of the love all children of God are called to share with one another. I will not tell you worldly ambition, the contest of princes squabbling over baubles and the illusion of power, has played no part in what has happened here . . . or in what happened in Darcos Sound when the corrupt men in Zion sent our sons and brothers to destroy those who had dared to reject their own corruption. Men are men. They are mortal, fallible, imperfect, prey to ambition and to the hatreds of this world. They are all of that. Yet even so, they live in God’s world, and God can — and will — use even their weaknesses for His great purpose. And as I look upon His world, as I meditate upon His word,” again, the hands gently caressed the great book before him, “I see Him doing precisely that. I tell you now, and no ‘foreign heretic’ has put the words into my mouth, what the Church of Charis tells you about the corruption, the decadence, the evil, of the ‘Group of Four’ and those who serve their will is God’s own truth, carried to us in the tempest of war because God’s Church would not hear Him in the time of tranquility. The men in Zion, the men who think of themselves as the masters of God’s Church, are not shepherds, but wolves. They serve not the Light, but the deepest, blackest Dark. And they are not the keepers of men’s souls, but the enemies of God Himself, set free to wreak Shan-wei’s ruin upon us all . . . unless those who do serve the Light stop them and cast them down utterly.

“God’s sword has been loosed in the world, my children. We are fated to live in the shadow of that sword, and it is up to each of us to decide where we will stand when His truth demands an accounting of us. That choice lies before each and every one of us. We ignore it at our peril, for those who do not choose to stand for the Light will find themselves, in the fullness of time, given to the Dark. I beseech you, as you face this time of tumult, choose. Choose! Take your stand for God as God gives you the power to see it, and gird yourself for the greater and still sterner test to come.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Merlin Athrawes shook himself and opened his eyes, letting the imagery recorded by the tiny sensors deployed inside Saint Kathryn’s Church slip away from him. He sat up in his chair in Cherayth, thousands of miles from Manchyr, feeling the sleeping quiet of the palace all around him, and something deep within his molycirc heart seemed to be beating against the confining cage of his chest’s synthetic composites.

The power and the passion of Tymahn Hahskans’ sermon echoed inside him, driven by the man’s personal, burning faith. A part of Merlin, even now, wanted to mock and deride that faith, because, unlike Hahskans, he knew the lie upon which it rested. He knew what Adorée Bédard had truly been like. Knew that, in many ways, Zhaspahr Clyntahn and Zahmsyn Trynair were far, far closer to Eric Langhorne than someone like Maikel Staynair could ever be. He longed — longed with a depth and a strength which shocked him more than a little, even now — to hate Tymahn Hahskans for worshiping mass murderers like Bédard and Langhorne.

Yet he couldn’t. He literally could not do it, and he smiled crookedly as he contemplated the sublime irony of it all. Adorée Bédard had been personally responsible for brainwashing every single colonist planted on the planet of Safehold into believing that he or she had been created, given the breath of life itself, in the very instant their eyes opened on this world for the first time. She’d built the entire lie, brick by brick. Every word of “The Book of Bédard,” whether she’d actually written it herself or it had simply been attributed to her after her own death, had been dedicated to supporting that lie, shoring up the coercive edifice of the Church’s tyranny.

And yet, despite all of that, it was the Order of Bédard — men like Tymahn Hahskans, like Maikel Staynair — who were the spearheads of the reformist movement. Who insisted on taking the words of Adorée Bédard and actually applying them. Insisted upon holding those who corrupted the Church’s power accountable.

Merlin Athrawes wasn’t going to make the mistake of assuming that anyone who supported the Church of Charis automatically supported the Empire of Charis, as well. The world — and the workings of the human heart — were too complicated, too complex, for that simple a parallelism to govern. Yet Merlin had also known, thanks to the unique perspective his SNARCs conferred upon him, that the anger against the Group of Four’s corruption had never been limited solely to the Kingdom of Charis. Even he had failed to fully appreciate the power of that anger as it bubbled away beneath the surface, for the coercive power of the Church — and especially of the Inquisition — had kept it beneath the surface. Unseen and unheard, where it was not permitted to challenge the authority and power of those who had made themselves masters of the Church.

There were others like Hahskans. Merlin had known that from the beginning of this struggle. He never doubted that they would demand the right to speak their minds and their hearts where the Church of Charis was concerned, as well, but he’d known they recognized the evils which afflicted the Temple. He’d hoped they would find their voices when the Inquisition’s stifling hand was lifted from their mouths, and he’d been deeply pleased when Tymahn Hahskans’ name had headed the list of reconfirmed parish priests in Klairmant Gairlyng’s first proclamation as Archbishop of Corisande. Whether Hahskans himself realized it or not, Merlin’s SNARCs had revealed to him long ago that the rector of Saint Kathryn’s was one of the most respected priests in all of Manchyr. And there was a reason that was so, a reason Hahskans deserved every bit of respect the laity of the Corisandian capital gave him, and not simply because he was a gifted preacher. He was that, of course, but the true reason he was so respected — even beloved — was that only the blindest or most cynical of people could possibly have denied the intellect, the integrity, and the limitless love which filled that man of God.

He is a man of God, too, Merlin thought now. Filtered through the prison of the Church of God Awaiting or not, Hahskans truly has found his own way to God. As he himself says, he’s not the only priest in Corisande who’s seen the corruption in Zion, but there’s damned well not another man in Manchyr who could possibly have seen it more clearly . . . or denounced it more fearlessly. And if I’d ever doubted there truly is a God, finding a man like this in a church in the middle of Manchyr, of all places, would prove there is.

The man who had once been Nimue Alban shook his head again and then, although he would never again need oxygen, drew a deep and cleansing breath.

“All right, Owl,” he murmured. “Now let’s see the take from Manchyr Cathedral. I doubt Archbishop Klairmant’s going to be able to beat that one, but let’s give him the chance to try.”

“Of course, Lieutenant Commander,” the distant AI replied obediently, and Merlin closed his eyes once more.

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47 Responses to A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 19

  1. rafael says:

    Banzai! the church is facing the thirty year war. I wonder who will be the Germany in this one

  2. Anthony says:

    Germany was a bunch of independent princedoms, who warred among themselves as much as they allayed with each other, in the seventeenth century. From the various descriptions I’m not sure there is a Germany on Safehold. Although that serfdom empire (Dresnair or Harchong, I can’t remember which it is) might collapse and become one.

  3. lockswriter says:

    I’ve said this before, but the Church of Charis needs a new name. Something to make it a little more exportable.

    The interesting thing, though, is that Bédard’s book can be used as an instrument of reform. It doesn’t seem to say “the Church is always in the right, no matter who’s in charge or how corrupt they may appear to your fallible mortal eyes.” Was it part of her plan that the CoGA, a human institution meant to be all-powerful and last for millennia, get the occasional house-cleaning every few centuries?

  4. robert says:

    Well if you look at the map of Safehold it is pretty clear that the control of the seas is the most important factor if there is to be a world war. There will be major land battles, but sea power is paramount. Overland travel is too rough and winters are awful. So it is not the Thirty Years War, but the Napoleanic Wars (with religion added) we should look to. We’ve already had the Battle of the Nile in OAR, and in this book we’ll have Trafalgar. And we may have seen a glimpse of Wellington. I sure hope that Cayleb is not totally Lord Nelson.

  5. Bret Hooper says:

    @2 Lockswriter: But doesn’t Church of Charis = (in some respects, not all) Church of England?

  6. PeterZ says:

    Oh, Robert. Look again at the map and realize that on Safehold Napoleon will befriend England or at least not antagonize her. I don’t see anyone on the Church payroll that has anything close to Napoleonic military skill. If anything Siddermark may rent/lease/borrow Napoleon from either Chisholm or Charis. Either superman or his new boss. And if that isn’t Nappy then he sure is Wellington without the nemesis. That is unless Stohnahr has a Napoleon in his back pocket, in which case Wellington and Napoleon get to be on the same side this time.

  7. Maria says:

    A whole spectrum of beliefs. Those who know the Church of God Awaiting is a lie but still accept God (Merlin & Co.), those who know but have doubts about God Himself (Wave Thunder), those who have faith in the Church but reject its corruption (Gray Harbor, Hahskans), those who know the church is corrupt and just plain wrong but support it anyway (Thisk, Whatshisname on the Group of Four.) Those who are corrupt but just don’t care, so long as their own position is secure (most of the Council of Vicars). Then there’s people like Clintahn, who see no distinction between their own moral bankruptcy and the will of God. Just about every possible position, except for someone who knows the Church and Holy Writ is one huge whopping lie and will do anything to prop it up. I wonder how likely we are to see that pop up.

  8. Summercat says:

    @1: All of Safehold, of course.

    I don’t quite think that there will be quite the parallel between the 30 Years War. For one thing, there’s no outside cultures to influence, nor any history of schism, heretics, or heathens. You have an effective one world state religion, currently in schism less than over religious principles, but rather over secular issues.

    Father Hoskins cuts right down to the root of the matter: This isn’t about the nature of the dietyhood of the savior (Catholic vs Eastern Christianity), nor about doctrine of how you become saved (Lutheren/Calvinist vs Catholic), but rather of abuse of the heads of the Church of their secular power.

    On another note, do we know anything about the state of theatrical arts in Safehold? I’m thinking of outlining a play that could play wonderfully in Tellesburg.

  9. Sigh says:

    This snippet made my eyes water a bit. Weber has a way with words, or at least the written word.

  10. Alan says:

    @4 Bret

    The Church of England officially describes itself as ‘catholic, holy and apostolic’. Outside England the various churches in communion with the Church of England call themselves Episcopal (US and Scotland) or Anglican (Australia, South Africa, Canada). All of the Reformation Churches claimed to be the ‘old’ church and argued that they were returning to the practices of the primitive church that the Church of Rome had abandoned. I’d have expected the Church of Charis to do the same.

  11. lockswriter says:

    The Anglican/Catholic split had more to do with local control than with reform. (That, and Henry VIII wanting a legitimate heir.)

    On Safehold, the big question for reformers like Hahskans is “Do we want to reform the Church, end the schism and bring back the spiritual unity of the world? Or do we want many national churches — a Church of Corisande, a Church of Siddarmark and so on — so that corruption in one won’t harm the others?”

  12. PeterZ says:

    That last post doesn’t make sense upon deeper consideration. The set up looks more like Fredrick the Great. Siddermark has a fearsome army but isn’t as rich or large as his neighbors. I recall that when Austria, Russia and France combined against him Freddy boy allied with England to narrowly beat them off time and time again. Fredrick was a tactical genius but was dealt a real tough strategic situation. Sounds very much like Stohnahr and Siddermark. Oh, yeah, Fredrick preferred to use foreign troops while his native Prussians remained alive and productively paying taxes. I wonder how that will work out (if that is the model) on Safehold?

    This parallel isn’t perfect but is much closer to what exists on Safehold.

  13. Karina says:

    re: do you want many or one church…I think it’s impossible to go back to one church. In the end, you want many churches with many voices bouncing ideas off of each other open to debat. So, long as you can keep it from turning to violence and introduce the idea that ‘we may worship god differently, but it’s the same god’ then you have a chance of growing into a more complex world. So, long as you stick to ‘our message is the only correct one and if you don’t follow it exactly, then you are a bad person’ then there is no room for growth and new ideas. That’s why I don’t care for fundamentalist religions – their version of god is not the loving one I was raised to believe in.

  14. Karina says:

    re: do you want many or one church…I think it’s impossible to go back to one church. In the end, you want many churches with many voices bouncing ideas off of each other open to debat. So, long as you can keep it from turning to violence and introduce the idea that ‘we may worship god differently, but it’s the same god’ then you have a chance of growing into a more complex world. So, long as you stick to ‘our message is the only correct one and if you don’t follow it exactly, then you are a bad person’ then there is no room for growth and new ideas. That’s why I don’t care for fundamentalist religions – their version of god is not the loving one I was raised to believe in.

  15. Karina says:

    Sorry for the duplicate post…something when wrong when I hit the submit button. I’ve wondered about the theater, art etc and what was kept. I’m guessing that Les Miz probably wouldn’t make it even though it’s about keeping the faith no matter what. There’s too much of corruption and rebellion in it, or sticking too close to the law and ignoring what’s just for it to be acceptable.

  16. KenJ says:

    @5 re. know it’s a lie but defend at all costs…. You had that in OAR in much of the command staff and Langhorn himself (unless he was so gone in his delusions that he was more like Clynthan “what I believe is true because I believe it.”) We may come across it again if there is another “angel” floating around in stasis like has been speculated before.

  17. Mike S says:

    The Reformation began long before Martin Luther (Lollards, Anabaptists, Cathars, etc), but the Church and the Inquisition kept the lid on until the catalyst of Luther’s trial at Wurms. A major motivation of all the reform efforts centered on the corruption within the Church itself. If you remember the “Agony and the Ecstasy” and the way Pope Julius was selling off Church positions to finance his wars, this was a common practice by both the Pope and the higher hierarchy of the Church to finance their lifestyles and their secular powers. Bribery was a common means of determining the election of Popes in the 15th century. Then there was the strain of nepotism (at one time, the Pope made his two brothers Cardinals), the focus on secular power (Borgia) and the laxity of morals (one Italian Renaissance Pope had multiple illegitimate children). The corruption permiated the Church, whether it was selling of indulgences, the lifestyles of the bishops and archbishops, the wealth accumulated by the monastic orders (many held land and serfs donated by worshippers seeking absolution and prayer) or its continued interference in the secular domain. The lower orders of the Church never indulged (for the most part) or benefitted from this corruption and that is why most of the leadership for reform came from monks and parrish priests. What finally gave the reformist efforts the psuh toward success was the rising humanism of the Renaissance, the increasing number of literate seculars and a grwoing “middle” class, which was supported and exploited by the secular princes to break away completely from what they saw as undue Church influence over their power and independence.

  18. Mike S says:

    Just an aside here, Christianity as a means of conveying the message of Jesus of Nazareth, whether he was the Christ/Messiah or not and whether conveyed through the multiple views of the Gospels and the real letters of St.Paul, was highjacked and perverted by a hierarchic, patriachcal and dogmatic organization created on the pattern of the late Roman Empire when Constantine made Christianity (the proto-orthodox version) the official religion of the Empire.

    In the early Church, Soldiers would not be baptized until they were retired or on the deathbeds, as the early congregations felt that the Military Oath of loyalty to Caesar and the profession of arms was incompatible with the teachings of Christ. After Constantine, the emperor was suddenly included alongside God and His Son in the Military Oath. God and Jesus had become a prop for the Imperial power structure.

  19. jgnfld says:

    @14 The Cathars didn’t do well, however, and were utterly wiped out man, woman, child, baby, and the largest part of their texts. This isn’t a very good role model for the “schismatics”!!!

  20. Maggie says:

    I agree with Karina that we may be seeing an end to Safehold ever again being a one horse town (or one church planet). Part of the impetus of pre-reformation through reformation activity was the sheer scope of the Church of Rome’s economic domination (for which read greed)throughout it’s sphere of influence. Not likely that the rising commercial powers will let any church have that kind of grip ever again…

  21. Maggie says:

    @16: Yeah. “Kill them all: God will know his own!”

  22. Mike S says:

    Keep in mind as historical precedent, which is obvious in the story, the constant struggle between the secular powers and the Church that started with the fall of Rome and the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire. In the beginning the moral power of the Church was such that a Pope could compell an Emperor to seek forgiveness in his bare feet during the winter after being excommunicated (Otto IV or V I believe it was). But the corruption in the Church where secular power was sought over moral superiority led to a constant fight over the control of the Church within the lands of the “great” Kings. The Kings of England and France were constantly seeking to force the Papacy to let the kings choose the bishops and to have the clergy take oaths of loyalty to the kings. The Avignon Papacy (The Exile) was an event caused by the struggle between the Pope and the King of France.
    A major problem was that in both Kingdoms, but especially in England, the church hierarchy and the monastaries held land “of the King” and were responsible for providing knights and men at arms to the feudal array. The church hierachy also often held positions of secular power, such as Chancellor to a King, and were members of the peerage and the House of Lords. Thus the church hierarchy in England owed loyalty to both King and Pope depending on the situation. The secular power could leverage the Church to buttress its position in society (especially once the King became the Head of the Church), while the Church could manipulate the government to sustain its position in society by bringing its power to bear on competitors (Lollards, Methodists, Puritans, etc). It was this political and religious marriage that our Founding Fathers had in mind when they sought to seperate Church and State so as prevent the power of the government from being manipulated and use to sustain the mainstream/accepted/approved religion against individual conscience and the government from using the social/moral power of the Church to sustain itself against political opposition and popular discontent (which is what the Church of Rome in England/and the Church of England and the King and Parliement did for centuries before the American War of Independence/Revolution. Remember that Catholics, Methodists and Jews were denied their civil rights in England until the 1850s and later.

  23. justdave says:

    in regards ro the TYW analogy I see Siddamark getting stuck between the Go4 and Charis

    Siddamrk will lose a good chunk of it’s vaunted army when forced to participate in the doomed invasion of Charis and then will become the battlefield as the Go4 unleashes the Harchong hordes

  24. Alan says:

    @19 Assuming by the Fall of Rome you mean the end of the empire in the West, it would be wrong to say that the church’s moral dominance started high and ran sadly downward ever after. The papacy almost became hereditary during the ninth century, Rome was a poor village surrounded by ruins and the papal court was both poor and ignorant . In fact, the Cluniac reformers had, as a central point in their program, restoring the political power of the church and Henry IV of Germany’s nasty moment in the snow at Canossa did not happen until 1077. The church hierarchy held land, legislative seats, the great offices of state, and feudal power in every realm in Europe, not merely England and France. The Eastern Roman Empire continued until 1453 (1204 more seriously) and the relationship of church and state was there profoundly different. Even so, the Eastern empire managed to suffer the Iconoclast Controversy whose advocates drew on many of the same arguments as the later Reformers in the West. So there was not a clear equation of church secular power = corruption, a single trajectory where the Western church lost its moral force as it gained secular power or where heresy grew in response to the church’s failings.

  25. Peter Z says:

    @17 and @11 I would agree that this is the desired result for both Safehold’s secular rulers and we readers. I just wonder under what theological justification this discussion begins. It must begin with a theological discussion because Safehold is still a “one horse town” with the CoGA as the big fat Clydesdale squatting in the middle of Mainstreet.

    Will that discussion be primarily driven by the Anglican approach of dispersal of the heirarchy? That God’s message is still the right one but individuals are corrupt and should be distrusted if their message is inconsistent with His Word.

    Will that discussion follow Calvin’s approach? That even the Archangels are separated from God (because they are NOT God do not share God’s perfection in equal measure)and so even their will is subject to God’s absolute sovereignty. Their teaching become just that teachings, not divine directives from THE unassailable source. After all even the Archangles can choose to reject God, Shan Wei anyone?

    Will the discussion follow Luther, which is largely the Anglican approach with a greater emphasis the individual trusting God rather than any worldly intermediary? I believe this is where Hahskans is going.

    My impression is that any of these approaches may be used and will be consistent with the Writ if not with the current interpretation. The Calvinist appraoch would rely strongly on the failed church and how that church was set up by the Archangels. The Anglican appraoch targets individuals but not the system itself. The Lutheran approach tries to walk the middle ground. The problem for the G4 is that they have decried the least threatening position (Chrisian/Anglican)as anathema. As Hahskans points out the Church of Charis isn’t attacking anything but percieved individual failure. Should the G4 respond and introduce theological arguments to support why those failures were just expressions of authority, the flood doors to true theological debate open up and their position turns to burnt toast.

  26. reaper says:

    Either Corisande or Siddarmark will burn when the church finally gets around to invading. I forsee a 30 years war in one of those areas. And well… the thirty years war needs a Tilly as well as a Gustavus Adolphus. I believe Thirsk and Caleb fit that category for now. The pictures associated with this novel foreshadow a naval battle. Something along the lines of the Defeat of the Spanish Armada or Nelson at Trafalgar. Though the odds seem to be more along the lines of Admiral Yi Soon Shin when he faced the Japanese off the coast of Korea during the first japanese invasion of Korea. The next few months will be torture waiting for this and Drake’s new RCN novel.

  27. Summertime says:

    A lot of Church history. Y’all sure are informed about it. But, it is all irrelevant. The Safehold population literally has no way to have beliefs contrary to their Church’s teachings. The Church of Charis is basically a difference of organization, not doctrine. We, in developing different Churches during the Reformation and onward, had the examples of the different beliefs in the early Christian Church. We also had, for comparison, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Pantheism, Norse gods, Roman and Greek gods, etc. We have had many thousands of years of different approaches to the divine. Those on Safehold have had ONLY the Church of God Awaiting, and absolutely no other religious experience. They can’t conceive of a real alternate until they come to the realization that it is all built on human invention, and that will come only after many years and much turmoil.

  28. piotr1600 says:

    @23 – Actually without the active suppression of ‘heresy’ by the Inquisition, I would expect that for every 10 people reading the Books of CoGA there will eventually be 20 new opinions on what they have read – like a lot of the small churches in the US forex.
    IRL people read the same book, but come up with *wildly* divergent beliefs. I can’t see any reason that wouldn’t happen on Safehold too.

    Preventing heresy from getting started, spreading, or actually changing CoGA doctrine is what the Inquisition is almost certainly actually charged with as their primary duty, I would think… Preventing any theological divergence would have to have been really high on Langhorne/Bedard’s “list of things to do”…

  29. Earl Dry Gulch says:

    I just made a post on the MoH thread and I’m going to make a similar point here: once things start to unravel there are going to be too many brushfires for the CoGA to stamp out. Support for the CoGA seems to be a mile wide and an inch deep.

  30. Summertime says:

    @#28 and others. You are right and I am wrong. Without the Inquisition to keep the lid on and enforce uniformity, there would be all manner of new religious movements. They would all be based on the COGA text, Langhorne, Shan-Wei and all. But, like our denominations and splinter groups, they would emphasize what they thought most important. Some would favor the loving kindness parts, and some the judgment and consequences parts. That is what Christian denominations have done with the Bible, God, Jesus, the Devil and all.

  31. Sigh says:

    Am I the only person who thinks that Harchong is a powder keg of rebellion that could easily go off given a spark (Merlin). They have a huge serf class, bigger than anybody else. I think that the Harchongese serf class could have a huge role in how things play out.

  32. robert says:

    @6 Peter. Exactly! The land war issue is minor. Whoever wants to be the Napoleanic equivalent can go ahead and try to conquer, but Safehold is one big Russia, except for the islands, which Cayleb holds. Tough to march an army to where you want it to go, tough to hold on against a hostile populace, tough to bring in reinforcements, etc. Wellington had two great moments: the Peninsula campaign, where he stopped the French, and Waterloo. Without the navy, he might not have had either. Finally, in the end it was the French against everyone else.

    So whoever controls the sea, controls the issue. Blockade, raid, etc. But first defeat Thirsk (Nile and Trafalgar and Midway and Coral Sea rolled into one), then you control the seas and nobody goes anywhere except over land. Ugh.

  33. Peter Z says:

    @32 Robert, what is the best way to defeat a navy? Sink it before it sails or is even fully built. Cayleb has that option. Cayleb even has a surrogate with real time recon and C&C. That means multiple shipyards at once. With this kind of capability, why oh why wait for that larger fleet to sail at all? I don’t think it will or if it does the different elements will never combine into the grand armada. More likely the yards are burned to the ground and the ships already built sunk before they are fully worked up to snuff.

  34. lethargo says:

    @33 PeterZ, there are also a couple of arguments _against_ Charis making a preemptive strike on the Group of 4’s ships:
    1. Charis may want to avoid outright war with Harchong, Desnair, etc. at this point, and striking those nations shipyards might officially bring them into it. Granted, Harchong and Desnair would not have the naval power to do anything about it at this point, but it might make Charis seem like the aggressor to some of Sidermark’s citizens, for example. That would be especially true if there was a lot of collateral damage to stuff other than ships and shipyards.
    2. Shore batteries might give Charis pause in any harbors that are well defended, especially if they want to keep the secret of the exploded shells for now. There may actually be some military advantage in meeting the ships at sea.
    3. Destroying the Group of 4’s ships at sea would also eliminate the trained sailors. (Cruel, but a possible factor)
    4. Destroying the Group of 4’s ships at sea would let them capture some of the ships, if they are good enough to be useful.
    5. From a storytelling standpoint, I find it hard to see a series of raids as a climax, although I suppose fighting a Corisandian rebellion or something could fill that role.
    Anyway, you may be correct. Personally the storytelling issue makes me think shipyard raids would be just one component (but a really good one).

  35. Rekes says:

    Logistics wins wars. The Church will lose because they cannot maintain a supply line across the oceans where Charis holds advantage. Their fleet is likely to be modeled after the Spanish Armada, filled with troops, skirmish loads of ammo, not viable in the wake of storms or multi-skirmish engagements from more mobile opponents. All Charis has to do is bleed their opponent to make the mass of the Church armies work against them. If the Church breaks through for landfall, as I said before, Charis can cut them off. The smartest move the Church can make at this point is to station all their forces in Tarot, secure the sea lanes between Tarot and the Mainland, and then hop over to Old Charis before Charis can mass against them. If they wanted to keep Charis from massing, striking multiple fronts at once would accomplish this as well, but at the cost of higher casualties on their side. Assigning each nation a front would keep the best cohesion in such an event, but would strain resources and supply lines more than a single, massed front. With Charis’ superior intel, multiple fronts has, ironically, the most chance of success by simply overwhelming Charis’ current abilities to respond. The Church, however, does not have the motivation or coordination for such a feat, and they lack the background for the level of autonomy that would be needed from the nations to perform this.

    When the Church fails at land war, my prediction is that they will start trying to turn all of the Empire into Ireland via infiltration and radicalization of local elements, perhaps with more concerted assassinations. As another angle of attack, they will probably offer statutes of pardon for Charisian expatriates in places like Siddarmark who will be pardoned in exchange for serving against the schismatics. The third outcome would be outright genocide, least likely considering factors against such activity: Lack of infrastructure, lack of organized method, lack of rapid transportation, lack of religious context apart from Rakurai, lack of motivation.

  36. robert says:

    @35 What you said! The reason that the church had to appoint Thirsk is that they themselves have no naval/military ability. They are not Admirals nor Generals. The reliance on people they ultimately have no control over will cost them plenty.

    There will be a naval engagement because the book’s cover tells me there will be one. With Merlin watching from afar. A decisive battle, I think. What could be a problem is that Cayleb might lead the fleet and may get killed. Or he may have to be taken to the Cave to be saved. Or…

  37. Duncan says:

    If the gang of four managed to get an overwhelming fleet (unlikely) then the best response from Merlin would be to wait until it was well out of sight of land then use the SNARC’s parasites to ignite the gunpowder in the magazines in all the ships at the same time.

    Removing all the ships, trained seamen and the land forces would cripple the Gof4 and doing it tracelessly could make it look like an “Act of God” !!!

  38. Peter Z says:

    @34 Lethargo et al., you guys are thinking military; using military advantage to secure military (tactical) victory. Look, Charis doesn’t have the manpower to win victory through military domination. The G4 can sit on the beach and regroup as many times as they want. They can lose every campaign but the last campaign and win the war. Charis only needs to lose control of the sea once to lose the war. To win Charis needs to destroy the enemy’s will to fight.

    How will Charis destroy the commoners willingness to fight unless they show just how frightening fighting the Imperial Charisian Navy actually is? To do that they must show those commoners what the new artillery and exploding shells are capable of. Without a strong will to fight, nothing the G4 alliance leadership can do will make their forces effective. Those forces will scatter with the first explosion.

    Surprising a small portion of them at sea and taking them out of the conflict either through death or imprisonment communicates nothing to the remaining population that the G4 can twist and lie about. Using those exploding shells in as obvious a way as possible to destroy on enemy shipyard after another is kind of hard to hide or lie about.

    I can’t wait to see how DW actually handles this, I simply suspect that destroying the ships in the yards will do more to defeat the G4 than destroying those same ships at sea.

  39. Peter Z says:

    @36 Robert, how do you know that the scene isn’t a fog covered bay or entrance to a harbor? The seas appear to be quite calm thus more likely to be close to shore. Basing your conclusion on that image may be misleading. Also, the blurb on Amazon is in the future, suggesting that it hasn’t taken place. That mighty fleet may never sail, which would be consistent with that blurb.

    We shall see what we shall see. I just doubt that either Merlin or Cayleb would accept a battle that was not as stacked as possible. I also doubt that DW will write a book glorying in one sided massacres. Both doubts point to battles destroying more stuff than people in this book.

  40. Mike says:

    re: destroying harbors/shipyards and or the trained sailors – Isn’t this exactly what Merlin wants to avoid? All of the workers and the sailors are the ones that would be pushing for more innovation. Even if that wins (this) war for Charis, it potentially slows the return to the stars. Granted, Merlin has already made comments in earlier snippets that he’s not willing to let the current major players in Charis die for personal reasons.

    Wonder if they’ll ever be a POV where Merlin (or one of the inner-inner circle) realizes that a certain course of action (i.e. razing those shipyards to the ground) is good for Charis but _not_ good for the long run. Especially if this happens during a council meeting when true reasons can’t be disclosed. How do you tell Gray Harbor and others “we really shouldn’t do that”.

  41. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Peter Z, what Merlin & Cayleb want and what they get are two different things.

  42. Peter Z says:

    Between you and Liviu at Snerkers, Drak, no bit of idle speculation can ever survive! Bah, I’ll just stick to reading and waiting for the book. I will privately speculate on what that difference may entail. :-)

  43. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Peter Z, you should have seen what I decided not to post. [Very Big Grin]

    Give you some hints. Sealed Orders and Merlin can’t see what happens in the Temple.

  44. Tootall says:

    Your commments are at least as interesting as the snippets-thanks to all of you.

  45. Bret Hooper says:

    @10 Alan: You are quite right, of course. That is why I wrote: “Church of Charis = (IN SOME RESPECTS, NOT ALL) Church of England? (emphasis added). I was suggesting that maybe DW intended the parallel in name, without expecting it to be interpreted as suggesting complete isomorphism or anything approaching it. One of the delights of reading DW is his occasional use of names to slyly suggest a parallel, such as a “Committee of Public Safety” headed by Rob S. Pierre or naming the ship owned and crewed by State Security the “Tepes.”

  46. Peter Z says:

    @42 Bad dragon! No cookie! Baaaaaad dragon! Go snack on some sheep or something. ;-)

    @42 SLY!?!? ….Oh, that was sarcasm! My bad.

  47. Alan says:

    @43 I appreciate your um penetrating insight about the Tepes) More seriously, the Church of Charis needs to get a program it can offer the nations of Safehold, even if its only the Anglican/Lutheran idea of the ‘godly prince’ as head of each national church.

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