How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 27

How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 27


Royal Palace,

City of Talkyra,

Kingdom of Delferahk


          Thunder rumbled far out over Lake Erdan, and multi-forked tongues of lightning glared down the heavens. Heavy waves broke on the reed-grown shore far below the hanging turret, and Princess Irys Daykyn propped her elbows on the windowsill as she leaned out into the rough-armed wind. It slapped at her cheeks and whipped her hair, and she slitted her hazel eyes against its exuberant power.

          The rain would be along soon. She could already smell its dampness and a hint of ozone on the wind, and her gaze searched the heavy-bellied clouds, watching them flash as more lightning danced above them without ever quite breaking free. She envied those clouds, that wind. Envied their freedom . . . and their power.

          The air was chill, cool enough to be actively uncomfortable to her Corisandian-trained weather sense. March was one of the hot months in Manchyr, although the city was so close to the equator that seasonal variations were actually minimal. Irys had seen snow only two or three times in her entire life, on trips to the Barcor Mountains with her parents before her mother’s death. Prince Hektor had never taken her back there after her mother died, and Irys wondered sometimes if that was because he’d had no heart to visit his wife’s favorite vacation spot without her . . . or if he’d simply no longer been able to find the time. He’d been busy, after all.

          Thunder crashed louder than before, and she saw the darkness in the air out over the lake where a wall of rain advanced slowly towards the castle and the city of Talkyra. It was rather like her life, she thought, that steadily oncoming darkness moving towards her while she could only stand and watch it come. This castle had been supposed to be a place of refuge, a fortress to protect her and her baby brother from the ruthless emperor who’d had her father and her older brother murdered. She’d never wanted to come, never wanted to leave her father’s side, but he’d insisted. And it had been her responsibility, too. Someone had to look out for Daivyn. He was such a little boy, so young to be so valuable a pawn and have so many deadly enemies. And now the refuge felt all too much like a prison, the fortress too much like a trap.

          She’d had time to think. In fact, she’d had entirely too much of it in the months she’d spent with her brother as “guests” of their kinsman, King Zhames of Delferahk. Months to wonder if they’d escaped one danger only to walk straight into one far worse. Months for her brain to beat against the bars of a cage only she could see. To think about why her father had sent her and Daivyn away. And, perhaps worse, to think about who and what her father had truly been.

          She hated those thoughts, she admitted, gazing unflinchingly into the heart of the oncoming storm. They felt disloyal, wrong. She’d loved her father, and she knew he’d loved her. There was no doubt in her mind about that. And he’d tutored her well in the arts of politics and strategy — as well as if it might have been possible for her to inherit his crown. Yet her very love for him had kept her from looking at him as clearly and fearlessly as she now contemplated the lightning and rain sweeping towards her across the enormous lake. He’d been a good prince in so many ways, but now, trapped in Delferahk, fearing for her brother’s life, she realized there’d been a side of him she’d never seen.

          Was it because I didn’t want to see it? Because I loved him too much? Wanted him to always be the perfect prince, the perfect father, I thought he was?

          She didn’t know. She might never know. Yet once the questions were asked, they could never be unasked, and she’d begun to consider things she’d never considered before. Like the fact that her father had been a tyrant. A benign tyrant in Corisande, perhaps, yet still a tyrant. And however benign he might have been within his own princedom, he’d been nothing of the sort outside it. She thought about his ruthless subjugation of Zebediah, his rivalries with King Sailys of Chisholm and King Haarahld of Charis. His ambition for empire and his intrigues and relentless drive to accomplish it. The bribes he’d paid to vicars and other senior churchmen to influence them against Charis.

          None of that had made him a bad father. Oh, she could see now how the time he’d invested in his machinations had been stolen from his family. Was that one of the reasons her older brother had been such a disappointment to him? Because he’d been too busy building his realm to spend enough time in teaching the boy who would someday inherit it to be the man capable of ruling it? Perhaps he’d spent so much more time with Irys because she was his daughter, and fathers doted on daughters. Or perhaps because she reminded him so much of her mother. Or perhaps simply because she was his firstborn, the child given to him before ambition had narrowed his horizons so sharply.

          She’d never know about that, either. Not now. Yet she believed he’d truly done his best for his children. It might not have been exactly what they needed from him, but it had been the very best he could give them, and she would never question his love for her or her love for him.

          Yet she’d come to the conclusion that she dared not allow love to blind her any longer. The world was a larger, and a more complex, and an infinitely more dangerous place than even she had realized, and if she and her brother —  her rightful prince, despite his youth — were to survive in it, she could cling to no illusions about who might be her enemies, who might claim to be her friends, and why. She knew Phylyp Ahzgood, the man her father had chosen as his children’s guardian and adviser, had always seen the world — and her father — more clearly than she. And she suspected he’d been trying as gently as possible to train her eyes to see as his did.

          I’ll try, Phylyp, she thought now as the first heavy raindrops pattered against the stonework and splashed her cheeks. I’ll try. I only hope we have the time for me to learn your lessons.

* * * * * * * * * *

          “Is she hanging out the window again, Tobys?” Phylyp Ahzgood, the Earl of Coris, asked wryly.

          “Couldn’t say as how she’s hanging out the window, My Lord,” Tobys Raimair replied in a judicious tone. He stroked his walrus mustache thoughtfully, bald head gleaming in the lamplight. “Might be she’s closed it by now. Might be she hasn’t, too.” He shrugged. “Girl misses the weather, if you’ll pardon my saying so.”

          “I know she does,” Coris said, and smiled sadly. “You should’ve seen her in Corisande, Tobys. I swear she spent every minute she could on horseback somewhere. Either that, or sailing in the bay. It used to drive Prince Hektor’s guardsmen crazy trying to keep an eye on her!”

          “Aye?” Raimair cocked his head, still stroking his mustache, then chuckled. “Aye, I can believe that. Wish to Langhorne she could do the same thing here, too!”

          “You and I both,” Coris said. “You and I both. But even if the King would let her, we couldn’t, could we?”

          “No, I don’t suppose we could, My Lord,” Raimair agreed heavily.

          They looked at one another in silence for several seconds. It would have been difficult to imagine a greater contrast between two men. Coris was fair-haired, of no more than average build, possibly even a bit on the slender side, aristocratically groomed and dressed in the height of fashion. Raimair looked like exactly what he was: a veteran of thirty years’ service in the Corisandian Army. Dark-eyed, powerfully built, plainly dressed, he was as tough in both mind and body as he looked. He was also, as Captain Zhoel Harys had said when he recommended Raimair to Coris as Irys’ bodyguard, “good with his hands.”

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38 Responses to How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 27

  1. Peter says:

    If she’s so smart, why hasn’t she figured out yet that Caleb didn’t have her father murdered?

  2. Bret Hooper says:

    @26 (of snippet 26) PeterZ: You sure predicted right on at least once: “We usually make a complete round of the main characters before we revisit any of them. No Coris or Irys yet.” Congratulations!

  3. Joel says:

    And what information does she poses in order for her to reach
    that conclusion?

  4. Elim Garak says:

    Well, at least we have one more imperfect and yet decent and intelligent character. That makes two (together with Norman). I would be surprised if the book spent more than 30 pages on her, however.

  5. Elim Garak says:

    @3 She has two pieces of information that she can use to reach the right conclusions:

    1. Cayelb is not a moron.
    2. The murder of the Prince was an extremely stupid act for Cayleb.

    Motive, means, and opportunity. Cayleb had the opportunity, but no motive. Who else is a player, and had motive, means, and opportunity?

  6. laclongquan says:

    They are what’s called Caleb’s motivations to NOT kill her father, not proofs that he didnt. Even if she suspect others than Caleb, she dont have informations to make that conclusion.

    Her guardian, on the other hand, has been the spymaster of the whole realm, deep in his neck to intrigues and espionage. He may not have proofs but he has instincts that tell him otherwise.

  7. Bewildered says:

    @5 Actually Cayleb and Sharleyn both had motive for killing Hector. Whether payback is a good one is another issue. Given Cayleb appointed the man who tried to have him assassinated the boss of his Mossad it seems unlikely he’d be such an idiot about Hector. Especially when a crushed Hector, I won’t say cowed, is so much more useful as a weapon against the Go4. If she starts asking who benefits from her father’s death and how then maybe she’ll start to wonder. Cayleb martyring Hector is highly useful to the Inquisition but not useful to Charis so maybe …

  8. Nimitz13 says:

    At least she’s finally THINKING about her father and seeing him as he really was instead of through the rosy tint of hero worship. She’s finally developing an open mind. Who would have thought?

    A hint or two from Coris about who poses the biggest threat to her little brother – Cayleb, who has declared him the prince of Corisande if he returns, or Clyntahn, who wants him dead, martyred by “Charisian assassins” just like his father.

    It looks like they’re going to make a run for it after all. The EoC is going to get at least two new citizens. (Coris still might be the named character “something nasty” happens to.)

  9. jgarland says:

    @all of the above…

    Has NO one noticed there is a thunderstorm on? (:-o)

    That CAN’T be a good thing for SOMEONE, but it might mean Merlin will show up! :-)

  10. Maggie says:

    Musical interlude for Irys: “I Vow To Thee My Country”.

  11. PeterZ says:

    @9 That thunderstorm is the death of her implacable hatred for Cayleb, JGarland. She may never like Cayleb, but in her thoughts she has accepted that her father was responsible for many bad things. The next step, which the MWW will likely not show directly, is to recognize that even if Cayleb did kill her father Irys may just have to work with him anyway. That is the storm she revels in and why the MWW has set her in a storm now. The surprise that the MWW has for her is that life is not always unbearable sacrifice.

    Along those lines, the scene also suggests that Irys will find her best moments in crisis. Where others lose their composure, she will not. She revels in the turbulence of stormy times…..kind of like a young duke with a cast iron stomach helping his crewmates through perilous and stormy times.

  12. wyrm says:

    If Irys reasons this through, and Coris obtains evidence, then Clyntahn could have created his own nemesis.

    This girl’s got enough hate in her that I could see her (in an alternate story line) activating a suicide bomb in an interview with the Go4, just to get revenge. I doubt that DW will take the story down that path, but, if Irys sees the opportunity to strike back, she seems to be a person who *will* strike back.

  13. Valinor says:

    @9 I too was thinking thet Merlin would appear in the thunderstorm, afterall he likes beeing dramatic.

    On related news… I think we are overthinking what the diferent personages are thinking or what should they be thinking. After all when we know everything that has happened it is really dificult to not use that information when we think about what any personage is thinking, and then we probably don’t know enought about them in the firs place.

  14. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Valinor, I agree on the “overthinking”.

    Of course, (minor snerk) there’s one thing that will color Irys’ thinking on “who killed her father”.

    She thinks of Corisande as “belonging” to the House of Daykyn and the idea that her brother can only be Prince if he accepts Cayleb as his overlord is not something that she will easily accept.

    So the conquest of Corisande is “personal” to her which makes it easy for her to believe that Cayleb ordered her father’s death.

  15. PeterZ says:

    Drak, is it over thinking to notice that Irys is indeed reconsidering her assumptions and fundemental beliefs about the world she lives in? That the father she loves did indeed do nasty things to other people? That perhaps the nasty things that have happened to her and her brothers are indeed a result of her father’s actions?

    I don’t believe that she has concluded anything, but she is reconsidering all those things. She is even considering the necessity of dealing with Cayleb. Where is any of this over thinking? The Hektor A-A bit is wishful thinking perhaps, but not over thinking.

  16. robert says:

    @10 Maggie, turn of the (20th) century patriotic shmaltz? Only in Hollywood.

  17. summertime says:

    Hmm. A trusty, rough and ready subordinate is brought into prominence. Maybe he will be needed soon to foil a killer sent by Clyntahn.

  18. Drak Bibliophile says:

    PeterZ, all of us have been guilty of “overthinking” concerning David Weber’s characters.

    I wasn’t commenting just on “overthinking” concerning the lovely Irys. [Wink]

  19. JeffM says:

    I would agree that Merlin might show up in a thunderstorm, just as the only way to reach Irys through her “protection”. After the last book, I was really anticipating that it would be Ahnzhelyk (Angelique) who was to be the bridge. Looking forward to seeing whatever “official” position she might occupy.

    Amazing how Clyntahn continues to forge the instruments of his own destruction. First Sharleyan amd Nahrmahn (actually, “first Charis”), and probably Irys. Siddarmark isn’t too far away, though at this point I cannot really see Thirsk coming over, but he’s otherwise quite brilliantly managing to array the best and the brightest against himself.

  20. PeterZ says:

    @18 Overthink, Moi!? Nonsense, Drak, you MUST be thinking someone else. ;-)

    @10 Maggie, considering her thoughts I suspect “Stormy Weather” the Billie Holiday version. Hers is the most meloncholy. Irys is lamenting the loss of her comforting childhood view of her father. A bit of a stretch, just a bit.

  21. Peter Lindley says:

    Not specifically relevant to this snippet but here’s a thought on Clyntyn.
    I suggest that we will find out that Clyntyn of the Go4, is the only Safeholdian to actually know
    what the truth is about the Temple vaults etc.

    I reckon that the original Grand Inquisitor was entrusted with the truth about Safehold & thus Clyntyn now knows.
    This would explain why he has no problems with going against the edicts of the CoGA & potentially why he is so ruthless.

    Any thoughts ?.

  22. Maggie says:

    @16, @20 : But the fact is, robert, that patriotic shmaltz (forgive me Maestro Holst)is just right for a little drama queen like Irys. The girl is (thankfully) beginning to mature a bit, but the Antigone like rants are a tad feeding for yours truly. I fear, PeterZ, that it will be a few years before Irys is up to first-class blues… Ahnzhelyk, yes! Irys, not yet…

  23. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Peter Lindley, interesting idea … but

    On David Weber’s site in a Safehold thread titled “Power of the Throne”, David Weber posted about Clyntyn’s personality.

    Based on my reading of David Weber’s post, Clyntyn doesn’t know the truth about Safehold.

    Here’s the thread in question:

  24. tootall says:

    IF there’s a PLOT to martyr more members of the “deposed” house, who is the logical target?
    I can’t believe they’d kill both kids, when they could “save” one for next year.

    AND, how does “the home team” protect- him, her, them?

  25. PeterZ says:

    @24 The home team has a spy in the enemy camp, tootall. Reread the introduction of Seablanket, Coris’ valet. Consider that the only people who knew Coris and Irys was headed that way was Hektor’s staff in Corisande. They had the lead time to set up the proper spy for the G4. The impression I got from Seablanket’s interview with Rayno was that a man trying to create an image that did not fit what must have been observed. He presented that image and catered to Rayno’s prejudices at the same time.

    I suspect that Seablanket is a double agent whose loyalties are with Corisande/Coris first and the Regency Council second. He may not be able to stop an assassination attempt but he may provide warning.

  26. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @21 – Peter Lindley

    It would be a bit ironic if the Grand Inquisitor knows the truth about Safehold, but I really doubt that is the case. Clyntahn is ruthless because he is a delusional, megalomaniacal narcissist. He is delusional because he believes that what he desires is what God wills. He is a megalomaniac, because he is obsessed with seizing all the power of the CoGA so that he can direct it in the way that God (Clyntahn’s idea of God anyway) wants it to go. He is a narcissist, because he cannot distinguish between his grandiose desires and what he is capable realistically of achieving.

  27. robert says:

    @21 Actually, I think that Clyntahn is a Gbaba. So there!

  28. Brom says:

    @25 IIRC, there was sufficient passage of time between arrival of Coris, Irys and Daivyn in South Harchong and Coris’ travels to Zion for word to have been passed by semaphore to Zion and for Rayno to easily pre-position Seablanket to be hired by Coris. Not saying the Inquisition did not have a spy in Hektor’s inner circle, just that Seablanket can not be used as proof of such.

  29. PeterZ says:

    You too, robert? I thought I was the only one hearing the Darth Vader theme song each time he appeared on scene.

  30. PeterZ says:

    @28 Sorry, Brom. You missed my point. Seablanket is an inquisition double agent who is more loyal to Corisande. Hektor and his cronies placed him where Coris was to arrive for the inquisition to use as Coris’ spy. He was hired shortly after Crois and Irys arrived the first time in Harchong. There wasn’t time for any other power to pre position anyone.

  31. tootall says:

    #25 and # 28 I wiil assume that we all believe Seablanket is working against someone. I wonder exactly who. If he is an agent of Coris or Charis, then any assassination that would go thru him could be prevented. If he is, in fact, working for the church, then hopefully Merlin’s little friends would learn of the plot in enough time for him (Merlin) to prevent it. In either case, if the our favorite Grand Inquisitor decides to kill one or the other of the “children”, but does not go thru Seablanket-(or Coris-who has a degree of Church trust). Then how does the home team prevent such action? My own answer would be that Merlin has little robots ALL over Delferahk. All that said-(written(?))-someone has to be on the spot to actually stop the attempt.

  32. RandomThoughts says:

    It is good to see that Irys is starting to view her father as the imperfect person that he was. When she disentangles the emotion from the memories, she will start to view past events in a more objective manner. She will still need a trigger to get to the next stage – the realization that Mother Church’s minions are so badly corrupt that they are capable of callous and utterly heinous actions. Look for Clyntawn to provide her with that. He really is his own worst enemy.

    It is also possible that Irys and her retinue will hear updates from Corisande. By early in AMF, Corisande was almost back to pre-invasion levels of prosperity and was on track to exceed them. Life has gone back to mostly peaceful and religious freedom is taking root. All of that has to be an appealing contrast to life as she has known it these past several years.

  33. KIMs says:

    Merlin/Charis have an data overload problem. If we assume that there are 1,000 spy robots over Safehold (probably more than this), OWL will review that 1000 days worth of input in 1 day. A problem noted before. An example would be if MWW walks in and talks to Princess Irys, with out much if any introduction, and he explains how her father died and Merlin ‘hears’ this, what happens? MWW is not registered in their data bank. If he doesn’t return, there is no continuity. Merlin has a dead end that may be important. There are many dead ends in data gathering. Only when the pieces can fit together does one have usable information. How many people warrant a ‘spy bot”? The lead general in Harchong, … or the lead admiral … or the lead politician … or the lead clergy … or the vocal dissenter… or??? Even with distributing it between all those in the know, it is overwhelming. The easiest way to flag this data is by key words. Then link visuals to it. But see how much data tramission is going through the ‘airways’? I suspect the ‘spying’ is more limited than what we think or hope.

  34. KenJ says:

    I agree Seablanket is an enigma. On the surface he is a loyal member of the Inquisition. However from day one he has resonated a false note with me… I am not sure if he is a double agent as some have suggested or if he “turns his cassock” after the Clyntahn pogroms or maybe even a member of the Circle that Clyntahn didn’t know about. He may even be one of Angelique’s agents. I suspect he will be a lynch-pin to a plot action in the future.

    As for Irys “seeing the light” about Charis… I don’t think she will in this book. I think it will involve something extreme al’la PICA intervention/nowhere-else-to-go situations. However, I suspect she will soon come to the realization that it was the church that offed her family… at which point she’ll become even more desperate and distrustful. I don’t think she’ll EVER be able to truly trust and accept Charis’ overlord-ship… Although I CAN see her becoming an independent ally against the G4

  35. PeterZ says:

    @31 Why? As it stands now Coris and Irys are only interesting to the reader. What does Charis gain by assigning agents to watch over them? There is nothing in the intel briefs that even suggests that Irys, Daivyn and Coris will ever work willingly with Cayleb and Sharley. Until that changes and either the Regency Council or events persuades Coris that Corisande is the safest place for his charges, Charis will continue to find other uses for their intel personnel.

  36. tootall says:

    #35 Good point Peter.

  37. robert says:

    @35 Peter. The PR hit should any, some, or all of them get assassinated and Charis get blamed for it, would be um, BAD? They need to be protected.

  38. tootall says:

    @23 Thanks Drak for the link-good stuff.

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