A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 21

A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 21

November, Year of God 893

Imperial Palace,
City of Cherayth,
Kingdom of Chisholm;
HMS Dawn Wind, 54,
Dolphin Reach

“What do you think about Merlin’s and Owl’s latest reports on Corisande, Maikel?” Sharleyan asked.

She and Cayleb sat in Prince Tymahn’s Suite, the rooms just down the hall from their own suite which had been converted into a combined library and office. It lacked the remodeled, heated floors of their bedroom, but a brand-new cast-iron stove from the Howsmyn Ironworks had been installed, and the coal fire in its iron belly gave off a welcome warmth.

“You’ve both seen the same imagery I have from Merlin’s SNARCs,” Maikel Staynair pointed out over the plug in her right ear. His voice sounded remarkably clear for someone better than four thousand miles, as the wyvern flew, from Cherayth. “What do you think?”

“No you don’t,” Cayleb shot back with a grin. “We asked you first!”

“Harumpf!” Staynair cleared his throat severely, and Sharleyan grinned at her husband. Their contact lenses brought them the archbishop’s image as he sat in his shipboard cabin, looking out over a sunset sea, with Ahrdyn draped across his lap. His own lenses showed him her grin, as well, and he made a face at her. But then he shrugged, and his tone was more serious as he continued.

“As far as the Church goes, I think we’ve been extremely blessed with Gairlyng and — especially — men like Father Tymahn,” he said very soberly. “We’re not going to find any Charisian ‘patriots’ in Corisande, even among the clergy, any time soon, but the reform element in the Corisandian hierarchy’s proved rather stronger than I’d dared hope before the invasion. And the really good news, in many ways, is how many of those reformists are nativeborn Corisandians, like Father Tymahn. That puts a Corisandian face on voices of reason, and that’s going to be incredibly valuable down the road.

“From a more purely political perspective,” the archbishop continued, “I think General Chermyn and Anvil Rock and Tartarian are about as on top of things as we could reasonably ask, Your Majesty. That’s Bynzhamyn’s opinion, too, for that matter. Neither of us sees how anybody could be doing a better job, anyway, given the circumstances of Hektor’s murder and the fact that there probably aren’t more than a half dozen people in all of Corisande — even among the most reform-minded members of the priesthood — who think Cayleb wasn’t behind it.”

“Agreed,” Cayleb said, his own expression sober. “All the same, I have to admit I’d feel a lot better if the Brethren would let us go ahead and bring Hauwyl fully inside. If we’d been able give somebody in Corisande one of Merlin’s coms, I’d sleep a lot more soundly at night.”

Sharleyan nodded, although, truth to tell, she wasn’t entirely certain she would have been in favor of giving Hauwyl Chermyn a communicator. It wasn’t that she doubted the Marine general’s loyalty, intelligence, or mental toughness in the least. No, the problem was that despite Chermyn’s genuine hatred for the Group of Four, he still believed — deeply and completely — in the Church’s doctrine. As with Rayjhis Yowance and Mahrak Sahndyrs, there was simply no way to know how he might react if they tried to tell him the truth.

And it’s not as if they’re the only ones that’s true of, she acknowledged unhappily to herself. Or as if they were the only ones who could be so much more capable if we only dared to tell them everything we know.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t, despite the difficulties that created. It was bad enough that they couldn’t tell Gray Harbor, given his position as the effective First Councilor of the Charisian Empire, but Sahndyrs, the Baron of Green Mountain, was at least equally important in light of his duties as First Councilor of the Kingdom of Chisholm.

Not to mention the tiny fact that he’s Mother’s lover (whether I’m supposed to know that or not) and the man who taught me everything I know about being a queen, she thought unhappily. Why, oh why, couldn’t the two political advisers Cayleb and I both lean most heavily upon have just a little bit less integrity . . . where the Church is concerned, at least?

“I’ve done my best to ginger up Zhon and the others, Your Grace,” Staynair told Cayleb, his tone a bit wry. “And I have to say, in the interests of fairness, that they’ve actually become much more flexible about approving additions to your inner circle. After being so miserly with their approval for so long — for so many entire generations of the Brethren, when you come down to it — that’s really quite remarkable, when you think about it.”

“Agreed,” Cayleb said once more, acknowledging his archbishop’s slightly pointed but unmistakably admonishing tone. “Agreed! And however irritating it may sometimes be, I have to admit that having someone put the brakes on my own occasional bursts of . . . excessive enthusiasm isn’t exactly a bad thing.” The emperor made a face. “I think all monarchs have a tendency to fall prey to expediency, if they aren’t careful. And sometimes I think the rest of the Brethren might’ve had a point when they worried about that ‘youthful impatience’ of mine while they debated telling me about it.”

“I don’t think I’d go quite that far,” Staynair replied. “At the same time, though, I won’t pretend I’m not relieved to hear you say that, either.”

“Oh, I’m maturing, I am,” Cayleb assured him dryly. “Having Merlin and Sharley right here at hand to whack me over the head at the drop of a hat tends to have that effect, you know.”

“Maybe it would, if your skull wasn’t quite so thick,” his wife told him, smiling as she ran her fingers through his hair. He smiled back at her, and she snorted in amusement. But then she leaned back in her own chair and shook her head.

“At least, where Corisande is concerned, you and I are closer than Tellesberg, at the moment,” she pointed out aloud. “And even with the over-water links, the semaphore between here and there — or from here to Eraystor, for that matter — works for us now, not the Group of Four. We can get dispatches to Manchyr a lot quicker from Cherayth.”

“That helps,” Cayleb agreed. “In fact, as far as the semaphore’s concerned, we’re actually better placed here than we would be in Tellesberg, since Cherayth’s much closer to our geographic center. It’s not the same as being there to keep an eye on things in Corisande myself, though. And, for that matter, I’m none too delighted at having to send them overland through Zebediah, even if we did personally vet the semaphore managers,” he added a bit sourly.

“No, it’s not the same as being there,” she acknowledged. On the other hand, they both knew why he wasn’t still in Manchyr, personally overseeing the restive princedom’s incorporation into the Empire. And completely leaving aside all of the personal reasons she was glad he wasn’t — including the one which was just beginning to affect her figure — the cold-blooded political calculation which had brought him “home” to Cherayth seemed to be proving out in practice. Sharleyan wasn’t foolish enough to think Earl Anvil Rock and Earl Tartarian were going to keep the lid nailed down on the conquered princedom’s many and manifold boiling resentments forever. The “spontaneous” street demonstrations in Manchyr — and quite a few of them truly were spontaneous, she admitted, completely independent of the activities of people like Paitryk Hainree — were an ominous indication of heavy weather just over the horizon. But it was obvious from Merlin’s SNARCs that it would have been even worse if Cayleb had remained in Corisande. At least, unlike Cayleb, Anvil Rock and Tartarian were also Corisandians themselves. And at least they were governing Corisande (officially, at any rate) as the regents of Prince Daivyn, not in the name of a foreign conqueror. Everyone might still see that foreign conqueror lurking just behind Daivyn’s (empty) throne, yet it still gave them a degree of legitimacy in Corisandian eyes which Viceroy General Chermyn simply could not have enjoyed.

Of course, that was its own jar of worms. And a particularly squirmy jar it was, too.

I wish I didn’t sympathize with Irys as much as I do, she thought grimly. And I know I can’t afford to let that sympathy influence me. But I also know what it’s like to have your father murdered. I know exactly what that can do to someone, and however much I may have loathed and hated Hektor Daykyn, he was her father. She loved him, loved him as much as I loved mine, and she’s never going to forgive Cayleb for having him assassinated any more than I ever forgave Hektor for buying my father’s murder.

Sharleyan Ahrmahk was only too well aware of the bitterly ironic parallels between herself and Irys Daykyn, and despite her own burning hatred for Hektor of Corisande, she truly did feel a deep, pain-laced sympathy for Hektor’s surviving, orphaned children. And if there was one person on the face of Safehold who would never underestimate just how dangerous a “mere girl’s” blazing determination to avenge that murder could truly be, it was Sharleyan of Chisholm.

Which only makes me worry even more about Larchros, Storm Keep, and all of their damned friends and neighbors. If only we could just go ahead and arrest them all for what we know they’re doing.

That, however, was the one thing they absolutely couldn’t do. Cayleb had been right when he’d decided he couldn’t simply replace conquered princes and nobles with people who would inevitably be seen as his favorites. No, he had to leave legitimate nobles who had sworn fealty to him in place . . . unless and until he had incontrovertible proof the princes and nobles in question had been guilty of treason. Which, since they couldn’t possibly present evidence from the SNARCs in any open court, meant all they could do was to keep a wary eye on what Merlin had christened the “Northern Conspiracy.”

And, if she were honest, she wished even more passionately that they could move openly even against the street agitators. She supposed there really wasn’t any reason they couldn’t arrest commoners “on suspicion,” assuming there’d been some way to identify them to General Chermyn. Or to Koryn Gahrvai. But just how did one go about indentifying them to anyone outside the inner circle without raising all sorts of potentially disastrous questions? And even leaving aside that not-so-minor consideration, did they really want to start down that road? She didn’t doubt there might come a time when they’d have no choice, but as Cayleb had just pointed out, it was always tempting (and seldom wise) to succumb to expediency. As far as she was concerned, she’d prefer to delay that time when they had no choice for as long as possible.

Of course, there were some other weighty, purely pragmatic arguments in favor of their current “hands-off” approach, as well. The “database” of agitators Merlin had Owl building continued to grow steadily, and there were many advantages in letting that proceed undisturbed . . . up to a point, at least. Not only would they know where to find their organized enemies when the moment finally came, but letting the other side do its recruiting undisturbed also served to draw the most dangerous opposition together in one group, to give them a single target they could decapitate with a single strike.

And, she reflected, sifting through Owl’s reconnaissance “take,” as Merlin calls it, helps us evaluate why someone joined the resistance. I never realized how valuable that could be, until he pointed it out. Knowing what motivates people to actively oppose you is incredibly useful when it comes to evaluating the effectiveness of your policies. Or how other people perceive those policies, at any rate. And it doesn’t hurt to be able to judge the character of your opponents, either. Not everyone who joins up with people like Hainree and Waimyn belongs in the same basket with them. There are good and decent people on the other side — people who genuinely think what they’re doing is the right thing, what God wants them to do. It’s hard enough remembering that even with the proof right in front of us. Without it, I don’t think I’d be able to remember at all when sentencing time rolls around.

At least the effort wasn’t burning up as much of their time as it might have. Now that Merlin had gotten the process up and running, Owl routinely assigned parasite sensors to each additional anti-Charis activist as he was identified. At this point, neither Merlin nor Cayleb or Sharleyan were trying to keep track of everyone being added to the files. If the “filters” Merlin had put in place were doing their jobs, Owl would identify any important Corisandian churchman, noble, or member of Parliament who crossed the path of anyone in the database. At that point, those involved would be brought to Merlin’s attention and flagged for closer future observation. Several of the more important (or more active, at least) of the street agitators had also been added to the “special watch” list, and Owl routinely notified Merlin of anyone new who crossed those people’s paths, regardless of the newcomer’s rank. For the most part, though, all they were really doing was to develop their list of active opponents and continue to chart the slowly growing, steadily more sophisticated organization those opponents were putting in place. And hard as it was watching it grow when they couldn’t nip it in the bud, none of them were foolish enough to think they could have prevented it from happening, in one form or another, whatever they did.

And sooner or later, we will be in a position to break their organization, too, Sharleyan thought. In fact, sooner or later we’ll have to, and not just in Manchyr, either. The “Northern Conspiracy” is going to be on our little list, too. Eventually, they will give us evidence we can use, once we “discover it” through more acceptable avenues. And when we do, they’ll discover just how efficient our headsmen are.

She was rather looking forward to that day, actually.

“Well,” she said, “at least it doesn’t look like Corisande’s going up in flames tomorrow morning. It doesn’t hurt that you’re on your way for your first pastoral visit both here and in Corisande, either, Maikel. And I imagine” — her voice turned just a bit smug, undeniably it turned smug — “that once word gets out that we’re finally about to produce an heir it’s going to upset certain people I could mention almost as much as it’s going to reassure all of our people.”

“Oh, I’m sure it is,” Cayleb agreed in a tone of profound satisfaction. “I’m sure it is.”

“And neither is Emerald,” Staynair told them both. “Going up in flames, I mean.”

None of them were speaking loudly, but the archbishop’s voice was lower pitched than either Cayleb’s or Sharleyan’s. They had the advantage of thick, stone walls, and of a heavy door of solid nearoak, warded by two imperial guardsmen personally selected for their duty by Merlin Athrawes and Edwyrd Seahamper. No one was going to get close enough to eavesdrop on them.

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44 Responses to A Mighty Fortress – Snippet 21

  1. Maria says:

    “None of them were speaking loudly, but the archbishop’s voice was lower pitched than either Cayleb’s or Sharleyan’s. They had the advantage of thick, stone walls, and of a heavy door of solid nearoak, warded by two imperial guardsmen personally selected for their duty by Merlin Athrawes and Edwyrd Seahamper. No one was going to get close enough to eavesdrop on them.”

    One wonders where Merlin has taken himself off to.

  2. reaper says:

    They’re discussing letting the rebellion grow. I think it’s a bad idea. As more people become involved, it would mean that more people will have a stake in formenting rebellion. It’ll become a family inherited vendetta. Nobles are easy to deal with. It’s the commoners who would be more dangerous. This is like Iraq. We bought out alot of the richer/middle class, but its ususally the lower middle class and poorer classes that have been formenting the unrest. They’re the ones with the most to gain in power and wealth. As for the enemy fleet, blowing them up while they are at sea isolated from others using the SNARCs (in the gunpowder rooms) would be easy. Merlin could easily mop up any survivors without a sweat.

  3. KenJ says:

    As it is nighttime (I believe) and typically their time off, I suspect they are off duty. Edwyrd is probably sleeping or preparing to and Merlin is being Merlin.

    Then again, there is no actual statement of what the time really is….


  4. Anthony says:

    And wouldn’t every one find it a little suspicious that the fleet just vanished? No battle, no surviving ships or sailors, just gone. Yeah no one would think that was unusual.

  5. robert says:

    @2 “As for the enemy fleet, blowing them up while they are at sea isolated from others using the SNARCs (in the gunpowder rooms) would be easy.”
    Check the book’s cover. There is a sea battle that Merlin is observing from far away.

  6. Karina says:

    About letting the resistance grow…. The part where it mentions that they are able to learn WHY people are joining means that they can address those issues, and nip things in the bud in that direction. As for the similarity to Iraq…well can’t go into the details here, but a lot was screwed up in the early days that soured people opinions.

  7. Rekes says:

    I still have problems with the level of sophistication these anti-Charis organizations are represented at. In Earth history the context of rebellion and insurgency was surprisingly uncomplicated except in organizations that had the property of duration such as secret societies. The systems that emerged to allow for things like cell-based hierarchy and detached leadership in resistant societies evolved from trial and error over centuries, and on Safehold they achieve this complexity in a matter of years? Where’s the trial and error? Safeholdians are supposed to be new to the concept of global engagements and inter-doctrinal warfare. I doubt anyone wrote manuals on how to create resistance movements like the IRA did. Is there a passage in the Writ that refers to how one goes about not being conquered?

  8. Safeholdian states have been expanding and conquering each other for centuries now. Maybe some of them rediscovered the arts of resistance? That’s all I can think of.

  9. Peter Z says:

    Every one of these resistance groups have so far been organized by preists. Just consider the rats nest of intelegence and counter intelegence activities that go on in the CoGA that we have already seen. Those priests plot against each other all the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if elements of the church have organized demonstrations against previous secular rulers.

  10. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Maria, remember Cayleb ordering Merlin to take down time in the last book?

    Merlin is taking his down time as ordered and Owl is under orders to report it if he doesn’t. [Grin]

  11. Peter Z says:

    Speaking of OWL, this snippet has sparked a thought. OWL is observing all the take of those snarcs. It has to analyze that take based on the filters merlin implemented. That’s a massive amount of personalities it is observing that can get put into the context of its interactions with its humans. Mr. OWL should be developing some sort of personality real quickly, my bet is that personality will be “female”. It appears to me that the distribution of functions of its humans is that females “think” and males “do”.

  12. Rekes says:

    All sapient beings can be assumed to have two relative states of being that encompass all possibilities: The reflective and non-reflective state. Both are variations on doing in which one has experiences but one is self observed and the other is non-attributive to self. However, even when not thinking of self as one does things one is still there. Reflective self consciousness is correlated with the conceptual grasp of things.

    Most experiences are not correlated to descriptions of human experience, but we tend to think of ourselves as of everything was being reflected upon when the reality is that it is not. We do not follow ourselves in theory on an everyday basis, we are immersed in the actions we perform. The things we are in touch with are so structured that in our consciousness of them our intentional direction towards them are also towards ourselves.

    OWL needs a concept of itself to begin forming the object of self. Without needs, OWL has no self-interested basis for action, much less self reflection, but perhaps sympathy for beings with needs will provide a correlation to acting on behalf of human needs. But from what need of OWL’s would sympathy, much less intent, arise?

  13. Peter Z says:

    The need to learn. That is programmed into the old bird. It must learn and apply what it has learned to performing its function. A function that requires communicating with humans, which demands understanding the humans it is required to interact with. So, I would disagree that OWL has no need to to develop a sense of self. It must develop one if for no other reason than to put in context the other personalities it deals with.

  14. Rod says:

    wow Psych 101 and maybe some sociology too. Heh I should take notes from you guys instead of my professor!

  15. robert says:

    @6 You mean “weapons of mass destruction?”

    An interesting discussion on Artificial Intelligence and the ability to “reason.” I have been away from the software world for 10 years now, but every so often I poke my nose in to see what is new, besides apps for iPhones, etc. While today’s level of AI is virtually the same as it was 10 or 15 years ago, that is, rules-based expert systems, we can only hope that someday the AI that science fiction writers postulate will come about. I do not mean HAL! In 1976 Joseph Weizenbaum wrote a book titled “Computer Power and Human Reason-From Judgment to Calculation” which is still, as Lewis Mumford wrote, “a landmark in the integration of scientific and humanistic thinking.” I recommend it to all in the hope for an OWL someday.

  16. Drak Bibliophile says:

    I’ve been trying to ‘cut back’ on snerks but Owl does show more decision making later in the book.

    I do suspect that the increased contact with people is helping Owl grow.

    By the way, I’m wondering if in a later book Owl discovers counterparts to the Brotherhood elsewhere on Safehold.

    Since Owl does seem to becoming a better thinker, Owl might decide to follow up on the differences in the two lists and see if any other group grew from the other seeds planted.

  17. Maggie says:

    Speaking of Emerald…..

  18. Peter Z says:

    @17 No. Nein. Non. Nyet Tidak, Maggie. Emerald is too close. Siddermark and Harchong. These are the only two nations that bypassed the feudal system pervasive on Safehold. Why? How did the Harchongese develope the idea of bypassing the aristocracy through burocracy? How did a society develop a republic and maintain that tradition despite CoGA disaaprocal?

    It is more likely that these two nations are holding some variant of the bretheren, even if it may be bastardized in Harchong, people using the history of the Terran Federation to pick and choose survival strategies.

  19. Rekes says:

    @14 Phenomenology, not introductory psychology.

  20. Rekes says:

    @13 “Self” as personality forms around the needs one maintains. Existence being a given, the enjoyment of existence (not necessarily happiness but the act of knowing you are being) precedes those other acts which are then driven to maintain existence. ( Being > Enjoyment > Thought/Action: Engagement in the objective world and maintenance of existence in this reality ) OWL requires no objective maintenance, he simply is. To the extent that he is self repairing, those functions if removed from its consciousness are not motive for being any more than a lack of consciousness over the spleen is motive for you to exist as a human. If OWL was truly programmed with the need to learn, he would have asked questions of Nimue when she first awoke. That OWL is capable of learning is already evidenced, but I would argue based on his status thus far that the need to learn has not been brought out in the device, though as a consequence of developing plot in the literary tradition it seems imminent in the device. But imminence of need is not sufficient to constitute self at this point in the book, because OWL for all intents and purposes has no self, though debatably it could exist as a self near the state of enjoyment of existence, for which OWL would be more of a subject than object of effective reality (Consider a person as subject affecting reality through objective existence) where Nimue’s will controls the object comprising OWL (his body) but OWL has not come out of the state of being to a state of effectiveness. Thus, the self that is OWL is too much of a self to be conscientious over its actions; more like a child in the Descartian sense for not having its own thought. I would guess that the best state to ascribe the program would be that it is now entering from mere being to a state of contentment (enjoying existence but not having moved beyond it) and/or innocence (performing thought but not accessing concept) from which OWL can proceed out of these states to one with which a person becomes familiar with after childhood: Those uncertain motives and unfathomable ethics that lie behind courses of action. That OWL lacks the bodily needs that humans experience does not prevent it from becoming self-conscious, rather it has to recognize its own needs without the compelling references that are in place in humans. Thus, it may be slow but OWL as a self might eventually find its way to the state of confusion we all share. Then it can start making real decisions and forming its own ethics.

    “I enjoy the sight of humans on their knees.”

    “That was a joke.”


  21. RobertHuntingdon says:

    @16 – robert, no, he’s talking about souring people inside of Iraq, not political wrangling outside of it. So no matter which side was right (if either), that’s not what he’s talking about.

    @9, Yeah, PZ, I suspect you are nailing it there. The people may very well not have a clue about resistance movements, but with the incredible degree of bureaucratic infighting the COGA displays I have little doubt they have the equivalent of a master’s degree in it by the time they make Upper Priest. If they didn’t imbibe it with their mother’s milk, that is.

    But even if not, Merlin doesn’t need resistance movements without any teeth. Can’t make it TOO easy on them after all or it’s a GregD type of battle that the good guys can win in 15 pages or less. ;)


  22. Peter Z says:

    @20 Rekes, how fortuitous that RH posted after you. RH had a bit of a round and round discussion about some financial issue on Safehold a while back. I don’t recall exactly what it was about. Your post reminded me of that exchange.

    It doesn’t matter what WE know about the machinations of the real world, it matters what DW knows or how he chooses to apply what he knows. You may well be right about the logic of understanding, knowing and self, I just don’t think that’s the approach DW takes. He saves his best logic on ethics and morality and relies more of psychology for explanations of people and personalities. From that perspective OWL will grow up much as children grow up. That is easier to both understand and explain in the story. Of course, I could be wrong and we will soon get a disertation on the philosophy of being. Drak may just drop a hint one way or another.

  23. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Peter Z, if we get a “dissertation on the philosophy of being”, it won’t be in this book. [Wink]

  24. robert says:

    Harken back to Weber’s In Fury Born. The AI there is the model of Weber ultimate AI-ness in my opinion. That is where Weber is heading with OWL, even if not in this book, Drak.

  25. Peter Z says:

    Dahak is OWL’s model. Fury was retelling of the Orestaia. The Magarea had to fullfil some middle ground between an acorporeal entity and a human being. She was also as close a copy of Alecia as was expedient to the story. Magerea did not grow into being or develope in some way. Owl will have to.

    Drak, I am glad we will be spared that. I would love to read David’s views on the subject but would prefer to get it over a beer or two.

    RH, GregD got caught up just like I did in DW’s internal consistency. Evil cannot win in the real world. Either God would prevent it or an ideologue’s ideology would forclose the possibility.

  26. Maria says:

    @10 Hah! There’s gratitude for you! Merlin lets Cayleb in on all his cool tools and the rat uses them to tattle on him. Well, so much for my half baked idea Merlin was off setting up a super secret Seijin spy ring. :-P

  27. Rekes says:

    I would at least like to see Weber try to introduce Cogito Ergo Sum.

  28. Peter Z says:

    @27 LOL! It would be safe to say that he expects his readers to bring that much with us. [chuckles]

  29. Maria says:

    (after a quick check at Wikipedia) Couldn’t Cogito Ergo Sum be a way to sum up the discussion between Maikel Staynair and Merlin regarding whether or not a PICA can have a soul? The archbishop escenstially said that since Merlin acted like he was alive, as far as Stynair was concerned, he =was=. Merlin and Owl might be comparing notes one fine day. :-)

  30. Peter Z says:

    @29 Yes, why yes it can. The question will never come up until the big lie is exposed. God created man therefore man exists. Just read the Adams and Eves’ accounts of creation.

    BTW, my comment to RH @25 was toungue in cheeck.

  31. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Chuckle Chuckle

    Maria, earlier I had gotten this image of Owl talking with Archbishop Maikel about ‘him’ (Owl) being a ‘real person’.

    No, it isn’t going to happen in this book but I wonder about future books.

  32. Maria says:

    VEG Certain people may end up wishing Owl had =never= developed initiative and imagination. He doesn’t experience fatigue, has perfect recall and an enormose encylopedic database, and can run all the Snarc platforms and as many philosophical debates as people have coms simultaneously. Oh boy. ;-)

  33. jgnfld says:

    @18 “How did Harchong develop a bureaucracy rather than an aristocracy?” While we haven’t seen much detail about Harchong, what we do know follows the classical Chinese mandarin system in many ways. Don’t know how it was originally implemented except possibly inadvertently or intentionally by the original Chinese members of the command crew, I suppose.

  34. AVD says:

    well, I had a thought. this copy of the journal had nimue in it. just her name, but heh, that’ll be enough. Cayleb is thinking of naming their first daughter Nimue. If any other copies of this that are similar are out there, maybe that’ll be the thing that brings them out of hiding.

  35. jgnfld says:

    Now wouldn’t it be just a HUGE blindside if the Church has gotten a copy of some other group’s journal and that person named “Nimue” in it as well.

    The trouble with mounting impersonations and other secret identities is the blindside you never, never, ever expect!

  36. Peter Z says:

    @34 That was not a copy. It was a journal made by an Adam. AFAIK there are no copies, because everyone who has read it wanted it to remain secret. It was almost destroyed by the first Abbot who read it.

    If you want to suggest that there are other documents the church may have from other Shan Wei sleepers, well that is another kettle of fish.

  37. Peter Z says:

    @33 I somehow doubt that the highjacked colony board would have acquiesced to a non-uniform oarganizational structure for any of their member’s personal colonies. Harchong undoubtedly retained a higher rate of literacy during the Safehold dark ages as a result of their focus on bureaucracy. I just wonder what gave them this idea, when none of the other nations took to it? If the command crew advocated this approach, then why was it not followed universally? No, there appears to be something different about both Siddermark and Harchong.

  38. Maggie says:

    @37: PZ, could Harchong’s development have anything to do with it’s proximity to the Temple Lands? After all, could they not have modeled their bureaucracy on the hierarchy of the COGA?The other nations, being further removed from the Temple Lands geographically would have been more likely to “drift” socially. Just a thought….

  39. Peter Z says:

    @28 Perhaps, Maggie. Why haven’t the other nations bordering the Church lands copied, though? Oh well, we shall discover eventually.

  40. AVD says:

    @36 I used copy in error. I simply don’t know what word to use other than manuscript. If either the Inquisition or other Journals know the name, then the birth of this child could spark a huge uproar.

  41. RobertHuntingdon says:

    @30… PZ, when I wrote my wisecrack about GregD my cheek was in severe danger of having my tongue poke straight through it… :)

    @34-36… As for naming the daughter Nimue, I like the idea in theory but I would recommend “burying” it somewhere in the middle rather than the first name. And while I wouldn’t be completely shocked to find a previously “defeated” sleeper cell, I kinda suspect that — assuming there’s even such a situation at all — if there is any other location one was started where it no longer exists, it’s far more likely one died off from over-caution than was cracked from the outside. If even one was cracked, any organization as paranoid and control-hungry as the COGA would have FLOODED the rest of the world with agents trying to find any other organizations with the same “time-capsule heresy”.


  42. Rekes says:

    … venal and vitreous vermin vouchsafing the violation of volition…

  43. John Driver says:

    @10 Drak, Did I miss something? I don’t remember Cayleb ordering OWL to report if Merlin doesn’t get his “downtime”. In fact I found the following quote in “By Heresies Distressed”, right before Merlin saw the attack on Sharleyan unfolding.

    His lips twitched in a smile as he wondered just how Cayleb would be able to tell whether he was “awake” or “asleep” if the emperor came to check and make certain he was getting the prescribed “downtime” each night.
    I suppose the point is that he doesn’t have to check. I told him I’d do it, and he took my word for it. Sneaky bastard. It’s so much easier to creep around behind someone who doesn’t simply expect you to be as honorable and trustworthy as he is…

    Of course that could have changed since then. What I’m wondering is if the snippets told us that and I missed it or if your comment represents an accidental snerk.

  44. Drak Bibliophile says:

    John Driver, it wasn’t an *accidental* snerk. [Wink]

    It will be mentioned in Snippet 22.

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