Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 40

For what it is worth, I’ll be snippeting three times a week until Sept 19th.


Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 40


Archbishop’s Palace,

City of Tellesberg,

Kingdom of Old Charis,

Empire of Charis.

It was strange how alike and yet un-alike Manchyr and the city of Tellesberg were, she thought, standing on the balcony and looking out across the Charisian capital. Tellesberg was cooler, without the fiercer heat of the city of her birth, but it was also twice as far from the equator. The flowers and trees were very different here, as well, yet equally bright, and Lady Hanth was a botanist. She’d spent much of her time here, especially since her marriage, cataloging the countless differences between Chisholm’s northern plant life and her new home’s. She’d been making that knowledge available to Irys and enthusiastically expanding her own store of knowledge by adding everything Irys could tell her about Corisandian botany to it. And the two of them had made several visits to Emperor Cayleb’s Royal College, to discuss the subject with Doctor Fyl Brahnsyn, the College’s senior botanist.

Irys’ hands tightened on the balcony railing as she thought about those visits. She remembered her father’s comments on the College, the way he’d recognized — and envied — the advantages it bestowed upon King Haarahld and yet simultaneously seen it as one of Haarahld’s great vulnerabilities. He’d been right about both those points, she thought now. He usually had been right about things like that, and she knew he’d been tempted to emulate the Charisian king. But in the end, he’d decided the advantages the College had given to Charis had been outweighed by the vulnerability it created. Instead of copying Haarahld, he’d been careful to avoid any policies which might have suggested to Mother Church that he was tempted to follow in Charisian footsteps where questionable knowledge was concerned. And he’d been equally careful — and invested enormous bribes — when it came to pointing out to the Inquisition just how “questionable” the Royal College of Charis’ knowledge truly was. In fact, she admitted, he and Phylyp Ahzgood had been quite . . . creative when it came to carefully crafted rumors about the way in which the College was secretly transgressing against the Proscriptions, despite all its public professions to the contrary.

Actually, she thought, they hadn’t been so much creative as inventive. She rolled the word over her mental tongue, tasting its implications, for it represented the biggest single difference between Manchyr and Tellesberg. In Corisande, “inventive” remained the pejorative it had always been under Mother Church; in Charis, the same word had become a proudly worn badge of men — and women — who deliberately and aggressively probed the limits of what man might and might not properly know.

It made her skin crawl, sometimes, to realize how hard and how far people like Rahzhyr Mahklyn and his colleagues were pushing those limits. The proof of her father’s appreciation of the College’s value to the House of Ahrmahk was all around her, in the forest of sails and rigging she saw in the harbor, the huge, sleek, low slung warships lying to anchor or heading out into Howell Bay, the enormous stacks of crates, boxes, and barrels waiting to be swayed aboard merchant ships and ferried off to every corner of Safehold. It was that same “inventiveness” which had allowed those warships to defeat every foe who’d sailed against Charis, and in many ways, it was also that inventiveness which was allowing Safehold’s newest empire to blunt the starvation the “Sword of Schueler’s” fanatics had wreaked upon the Republic of Siddarmark. Yet, what if that butcher Clyntahn was right? Not about his bloody persecutions, or his amoral policies of assassination and terror, or his gluttonous, sensual lifestyle, but about the taint which clung to all this Charisian innovation? What if the Royal College of Charis truly was Shan-wei’s foothold in the world God and the Archangels had made?

And why did the possibility he was right bother her so much? Fill her with such a confusing mix of trepidation, apprehension, foreboding, and . . . regret.


you want it, too, she told herself now, finally admitting the point, remembering the hours she’d spent talking to Brahnsyn, the gleam of delight in his eyes as he’d jotted down note after note from her recollection of Corisande’s botany. The questions he’d asked had elicited more details than she would have dreamed she could have provided, too. He’d known exactly which to ask, actually assembled the information he’d already gotten from her in ways that let him shape and focus his follow-on questions almost as if he’d physically examined the plants she could describe to him only in frustratingly incomplete ways. The sheer depth of his knowledge had been astonishing, yet he’d been only one of the scholars she’d spoken with, all of whom had willingly taken time from their own studies to answer her questions and ask questions of their own.

She hadn’t understood a great deal of what Doctor Mahklyn had had to say about the new mathematics. She’d been forced to acknowledge that after the first five minutes — or, perhaps she’d actually managed to stay in shouting distance for the first nine minutes, although she was certain she’d been completely lost by the time he got to ten. But even the limited amount she’d been able to follow had filled her with wonder and a sense of half-terrified delight. There’d been nothing in what he’d said that actually violated any aspect of the Proscriptions, so far as she could tell, yet the implications of his new “calculus” and the other, frankly brilliant, mathematical operations and theories he’d proclaimed, would affect everything. She knew very little about scholarship in general, compared to the minds assembled in the College, but she knew enough to recognize the way in which Mahklyn’s new math must provide those minds with new, immensely potent tools. She’d seen proof of that already in the pages of diagrams Doctor Dahnel Vyrnyr, another of those scholars had enthusiastically displayed to her.

Vyrnyr was the College’s leading expert in the field of pressures, which wasn’t something Irys would have thought of as a field of study in its own right. The Writ explained why the Archangel Truscott had arranged for the boiling point of water to increase in a tightly sealed vessel, after all, and taught mankind how to construct pressure cookers to take advantage of his foresight in seeing to it that it was so. The benefits for food preparation and preservation were well known to anyone who’d read the Book of Truscott and the Book of Pasquale, yet Vyrnyr wanted to understand how the Holy Truscott had arranged for it to work, and she’d been using her own observations and Mahklyn’s new mathematical tools to pursue that understanding. She’d shared some of what she’d discovered with Irys on one of the princess’ visits to the College with Lady Hanth, and the scholar’s eyes had glowed with pleasure as she displayed the elegant rules and processes Truscott had imposed on the seemingly simple act of lighting a fire under a sealed pressure cooker.

There was a beauty to those rules, those processes, Irys thought now, leaning on the balcony rail, gazing out over the sun-soaked roofs of Tellesberg, listening to the voice of the city that never slept, seeing the new construction sweeping up over the hills around the city as the Charisian Empire’s southern capital grew yet larger and watching gulls and sea wyverns of every description and hue swirling in raucous crowds above the flotsam-rich harbor. The meticulous way in which the Archangels had fitted the universe together had never been more obvious than when Doctor Vyrnyr explained about pressures, or Doctor Mahklyn attempted to explain the magnificent inevitability of mathematics, or Doctor Lywys demonstrated the ways in which separate, dissimilar materials combined into new and unique compounds, or Doctor Hahlcahm talked about his efforts in conjunction with Doctor Vyrnyr’s studies of heat and pressure to determine how Pasqualization purified milk and food. Surely God couldn’t object to His children trying to understand and appreciate the majestic beauty and intricate detail with which His and His Archangels’ gifts had imbued His universe?

Yet there’d been another side to Doctor Vyrnyr’s studies and revelations, for it was obvious they provided a basis for the systematic expansion and improvement of processes which already pressed far too closely for the Inquisition’s taste on the bounds of the Proscriptions. The College had even proposed new names for the practical applications of Vyrnyr’s studies. “Hydraulic” and “pneumatic” fell strangely on Irys’ ear, and the fact that the College had seen a need to coin those words — indeed, had set up a committee chaired by Doctor Mahklyn himself, for the express purpose of naming new fields of study — was a chilling reflection on how its faculty’s determination to expand and quantify human knowledge drove them inevitably towards the Proscriptions’ limits.


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54 Responses to Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 40

  1. Frank says:

    Irys: friend or foe? Too much too soon? Or are we about to have her step into darkness as the enemy of my enemy is my friend?

  2. Bobsuncorp says:

    I think the only reason she is having these feelings is because if the Charisians are right then her father was wrong, and that is a realisation that will be an ongoing process. Eventually I think she is smart enough and good natured enough that she will follow in Father Peter Wilson’s (the one thing I don’t like about these books is the name spelling – it makes it hard to remember characters names when you have to constantly translate them in your head) footsteps and be welcomed into the inner circle.

    • JimHacker says:

      Then don’t translate them in your head. Just remember him as Paityr Wylssyn and leave it at that.

      • Nimitz13 says:

        That’s Paityr Wylsynn – Bleek!

      • Nimitz13 says:

        And if I hadn’t added his name to my spell checker, I’d have gotten it wrong too!

        The MWW has admitted the name drift was a mistake from an authorial viewpoint, and if he had it to do over, he’d stick with normal spelling for names.

        Since he didn’t, thank heavens for spell checking, since I absolutely NEVER spell Chisholm correctly. (I always spell it “Chisolm.”) And that’s an EASY name. Don’t get me started on the ex-baseball player’s name, I have to look it up every time, along with Cayleb’s dad, everybody in the Royal College, and Mahndrayn. (Just spelled that wrong again!)


        • JimHacker says:

          It doesn’t matter exactly how a name is spelled, just the general shape of it. You should be able to remember it pretty easily, so long as you don’t mess around ‘translating’ it each time. Because thenyou remember the translation not the name and have to go through the process each time.

      • ElimGarak says:

        I can’t. I have enough trouble with weird names as it is. I end up trying to remember them by the first letter of their name and its length, but then if there is a Murk and Malk and Mink I get all confused. The names are *really* annoying.

        Plus as somebody mentioned before, naming a bad guy after a modern day politician makes you look rather petty a few decades down the road.

        • Nimitz13 says:

          While having the CHIEF bad guy of your best selling series named Rob S. Pierre DOESN’T because the French Revolution happened a couple of centuries ago?

          I actually didn’t catch that until I was re-reading the entire series and wondered about all the fuss on the forums concerning the names the MWW uses in his series. Boy did I feel silly!

          Oddly enough, spelling the bad guy of Safehold’s name as “Clyntahn” prevented me from immediately making the correlation to the morally challenged if rather – opportunistic former president of the USA.

          But then Rob S. Pierre sailed right over my head as well…

          There’s been a few “interesting” names tossed in as well, once you fight through the spelling, which is sort of fun. Aivah Pahrsahn for one…


          • Cobbler says:

            President Clinton? Really?

            All this time I thought MWW was snarking at General Sir Henry Clinton, Washington’s great enemy during the American Revolution! If he shouts out to the French Revolution, why not to our native uprising? ;~)

            • Alan says:

              I always assumed that MWW had an unpleasant experience on the Erie Canal and named his antihero after Gov DeWitt Clinton in revenge.

              • JimHacker says:

                I’ve never been sure which Clinton he was referring to – or even if he had anyone specific in mind. I’ve always considered President |Clinton very unlikely though and General Clinton the most.

          • Robert Krawitz says:

            Not to mention Oscar Saint-Just (Louis Saint-Just was another character from the French Revolution).

            And of course, it’s no coincidence at all that Honor Harrington has the same initials as another famous fictional naval officer.

            From this series, don’t forget Paitryk Hainree.

        • Alan says:

          I am actually fairly friendly to weird names. Speaking a few foreign languages helps. I am actually quite good at recognising the ‘general shape’ of names.

          Weberese drives me to distraction precisely because there is no logic to it. I am fairly sure the ubiquitous AH is supposed to represent a nasalised vowel (even though not all vowels can be nasalised) rather than an aspirated A-vowel. The rule seems to be that unstressed vowels have all morphed into whatever the AH is supposed to represent, but the reality is that it is stressed vowels, not unstressed vowels, that tend to shift.

          The anatomy of the tongue dictates the way that sounds shift. Particular sound shifts are regular across all known languages. Safeholdian universal nasalisation is the linguistic equivalent of ships sailing over the edge of the world.

    • hCharles Obert says:

      I think it wonderful how a handful of “y’s”, “z’s” and “h’s” can make the people of Safehold just alien enough to allow us to study their values closely without thinking this is us who behave so basely and vile.

  3. 4th Dimension says:

    We still need somebody sympathetic to blow the big secret. I wonder who might it be?

    • Frank says:

      She might just do that. Stumble upon something or someone aka Merlin doing something or saying something that will rock her world. The question will be, will it be enough to push her into the arms of the temple? I don’t think so. But given the right set of circumstances anything is possible. Even a love relationship with flag lt. Hector.

      • Steve says:

        I think there has been plenty of hints about Irys finding the dashing young Hector interesting. Helps that Hector/Irys would be a nice political marriage too.

        • ElimGarak says:

          I really hope that doesn’t happen. It’s too obvious and banal a pairing. Plus it would mean that you could predict what happens several books down the road. Oh, look, two young adults are nearby – that must mean they get married. Done deal. :-(

          That’s how Ruth met Michael in the rather terrible Service of the Sword book. You could tell what was going to happen after the first couple of pages. I hate that.

          • JimHacker says:

            On the other hand, occasional predictability can make the unpredictable more surprising and the red herrings more distracting.

            • Drak Bibliophile says:

              On the Gripping Hand, DW doesn’t have to give us “red herrings” to lead us off. Some of us have gone off on wild goose chases without any encouragement from him. [Wink]

              I remember the “interesting” speculations about how Hektor and Iyrs would meet. [Very Big Grin]

              • JimHacker says:

                Well that was before i was active on the forums or reading snippets so i don’t recall that. But I certainly get the general point.

        • Allan G says:

          Having Irys trying to seduce Merlin could have been fun too….

          • JeffM says:

            You do know how old she is in Earth years, right?

            • Allan G says:

              And dealing with an infatuated teenager (who probably has noticed by now that the soldier standing behind the throne has more real power than the dukes in front of it) would be part of the challenge…

    • Nimitz13 says:

      Irys is a LONG way from being admitted to the inner-circle, if she ever is, and that’s where I expect a major failure to occur. For now she’s getting a sterilized tour of the Royal College, and most of the people she’s talking to aren’t in the inner-circle.

      The most likely leak within the inner-circle is going to take the form of someone denouncing the church as a lie and robbing humanity of its technological birthright, not running to the inquisition with Terran tech to prove the Charisians are dabbling with the archangel’s technology. An inquisitor might take a holographic scene as an angelic or demonic manifestation, not a violation of the Proscriptions. Terran tech is so far beyond the Proscriptions that I doubt they deal with it at all – unless there’s something in the Writ that says “men shall not dabble with the miracles of the archangels.”

      I can see that change being added to the Writ after the war that followed the nuking of Langhorne and his followers, since humans fought on both sides and the MWW has hinted that some of them had “angel weapons.” I expect angelic powers in the hands of humans are now referred to as demonic, which is entirely different from violating the Proscriptions but will have the Inquisition after you with an even more zealous fervor.

      If Terran tech is specifically forbidden by the Proscriptions, it’s actually the only way that the EoC is violating them at the moment according to the rather tortured logic Paityr Wylsynn is using. Since the CoGA will mimic new EoC tech as quickly as they can and Clyntahn will waive the Proscriptions in every case, why complain? ;)

      Long life to Clyntahn, and may the war drag on and on! Bleek!

      • JeffM says:

        There won’t be a “leak”, because OWL &Co will be monitoring everyone they tell duh.

        There might be a BLOWUP…but word isn’t going to go anywhere. Just, that person goes away. As was made clear with Father Paityr, and the discussion about telling out arrtillery expert.

        How incompetent do you guys assume Merlin to be, after all???

        • Nimitz13 says:

          I’m intrigued as to how the leak will be handled. OWL can of course blow up a SNARC remote in someone’s ear, as Merlin was tempted to do to Hektor of Corisande in BSRA (or was it BHD?) He didn’t because the result would appear so unusual as to be highly suspicious. Plus the EoC isn’t in the assassination business, that’s Clyntahn’s department. (Once Nahrmahn became an loyal EoC subject that is.) If not, someone may have to do some “wet work” on that person.

          There’s also the option to put the person in cryo-sleep, which was what Merlin would do to Seamount, with the possibility to put the person’s intelligence into the AI that OWL has created as a backup for Merlin.

          Note that although Merlin has presumably recorded himself using the recorder, the MWW thought about having “Nimue” available as a Virtual Person in the AI, then discarded the idea as too confusing. (He did like my suggestion to name the VP Guinevere though…) So the recording of Merlin is presumably in OWL’s databanks somewhere, and not in the AI. Which leaves the recorder available to record OTHER members of the inner circle… ;)

          I may be wrong, the MWW may have put Nimue in a Virtual Reality generated inside the level II AI he had OWL create for the purpose, but that backup doesn’t have access to the real world. It seems quite unfair to wipe out a Virtual Person who has been living its own life every time Merlin does a new backup of himself – it’s tantamount to virtual murder, so I don’t believe that’s how Merlin’s backups are being handled.

          So we have two options if a member of the inner circle goes public – death, be it by SNARC or human hands, or cryo-sleep until the truth is generally known and accepted, with the possibility of making that person’s intelligence available to the inner-circle as a Virtual Person for the creative types while their body is in cryo.

          So if you’re a member of the inner-circle and you go off the reservation, your future is bleak!

          • JeffM says:

            Two options??? At the very least, there are plenty of remote monasteries in Charis where someone can “retire” to. Or be a guest in Nimue’s Cave. Sheesh…what Drak just said. [G]

  4. TenofSwords says:

    Any intelligent person who encounters the Royal College is going to run into these thoughts i think. I suspect it is only the war with CoGA that is allowing a lot of people to accept the current pace of change without more qualms. Dr Johnson’s quip about hanging is pertinent: would you rather innovate or see Clinton burn your homes to the ground with you and your family in them? Put in those terms most people will accept the innovation even if it makes them uncomfortable.

    Perhaps Iris sees it more clearly because being Corisandian she is not so confronted by the CoGA’s determination to commit genocide in Charis.

    • Adam says:

      The War may have began the innovation race but I doubt it will stop after the war ends. They will see all these inventions as what let match power with the combined manpower of 10 times their own. Plus it gave them the economic clout to dominate the worlds markets. I really doubt they are going drop the practice of innovating. The Patent office that Charis made monetizes ideas themselves so there will always be an incentive to make something better.

      • Nimitz13 says:

        Yep, those botanists will go right on categorizing new plants long after the bullets stop flying. That may lead to the realization that there are two distinct types of plant life on Safehold once the heretical theory of evolution is proposed. Bleek!

  5. JimHacker says:

    It occurs to me that everytime we have a lengthy chain of snippets on one topic, someone complains towards the end of the chain that they’re bored of hearing about the politics/military situation/ R&D/industry/relationships/religion etc and wish that Weber would start a new topic. Not only does Weber do so (not surprisingly as its rather obvious when he’s coming towards an end of a chain), but he tends to jump to specifically the subject the complainant wanted to hear about next.
    Coincidence or clairvoyance?

    • Robert H. Woodman says:

      He understands his audience better than most authors. Either that, or he’s got one heck of a powerful crystal ball. :-)

    • Frank says:

      Weber long ago cloned himself then sold the soul of the clone in order to keep multiple series’ going that fans from all backgrounds and viewpoints would enjoy. One cloned soul per series.

      • Nimitz13 says:

        We WISH! Then one of him could work on Safehold full time, two or three on Honor Harrington, and some others could get back to Bahzell, the Hell’s Gate series, Dahak, the sequel to “Path of the Fury,” etc.

        The MWW isn’t going to live forever, and I don’t want to see us in a Robert Jordan scenario, since I doubt anyone writing from the MWW’s notes would do as well as Brandon Sanderson is doing with the Wheel of Time finale, especially since Robert Jordan KNEW he was dying, picked the author to finish his work, and discussed with him how the series would end and left him with a plethora of notes and an outline of the plot for the final books.

        It’s gonna be a bleak day when we wake up and read the MWW’s obituary. (Or mine if I should precede him into that section of the newspaper!)

        • JimHacker says:

          It is always a bleak day when we wake up and read one’s own obituary.

          • KenJ says:

            That actually happened to a co-worker of mine… We all gave him our condolences and asked him what he was going to do now he didn’t have to come to work…. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the birth-dates were off. Same middle name though….

    • Stephen says:

      I believe this post is a reference to my post last time, to the effect that I was bored with naval advances but would like to learn more about changes in education. This snippet is still much more about the college as a research institute than as a teaching resource (except for princesses), but yes, it is remarkably close to what I asked for.

      The reason is quite simple. Weber paid me to comment on the snippets at just the right time. In five more snippets, I’m supposed to ask about what the Church did with all the copyrights currently being held by Charisian authors. My guess is that Duchairn is going to convince Clyntahn that, instead of banning the series outright for its heretical origins, the Church should seize all mainland royalties to the Hynyr Hyrryngtyn books….

      • JimHacker says:

        It was referencing your post on the previous snippet but it was also referring to a trend I genuinely noticed recently. Before the last chain of snippets there was a chain on the Raven’s Lords where someone complained and wanted to switch to tech. Before that it was industry and someone wnated a swich to international relations/ how others were viewing developments. Before that it was Irys and Daivyn and before that it was Siddarmark – where someone commented they wanted to hear more about Irys and Daivyn.

  6. nov_284 says:

    Am I the only one that’s flipping stoked about the extra snippet a week?

    • Bryan says:

      Nope. I’m with you on that one.

      I’m even more excited by the realization that the book entire comes out in 3 weeks.

    • Nimitz13 says:

      Let’s just hope the three snippets are longer than the two snippets have been. ;)

      Since Drak knows how much of the book was going to be included in the snippets, I’m hoping the extra snippet a week means there’s more coming than the original two snippets would have allowed for, unless the last few were much longer than we’ve been getting.

      So cross the fingers on your true-hands – heck, cross them on all six! Bleek!

  7. JeffM says:

    Yesss Iryss… come to the Dark Side…

  8. Kari says:

    Since I’m hooked on the snippets…I don’t want so much that I get the book and find I’ve read half already.

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      Karl, the snippets cover about a third of the *rough draft* that David Weber sent me.

      I’m going start from the beginning in case something has been changed. [Smile]

      • Nimitz13 says:

        Drak, that’s just plain EVIL! ;)

        I always start over from the beginning, since the snippets come out over the period of several months so I need to review who is who and everything that’s happened. I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed any major changes from an eARC, although I suppose it COULD happen. Hinting that it might have… bad DRAK! No cookie! (No sacrificial virgins?)


      • nov_284 says:

        Not cool, man. Way not cool :-)

  9. Am I the only one here who is wondering when Charlz Babbyzh makes his first appearance? Given all of the cranial wattage being expended on mathematical calculations for Howsmyn’s and Seamount’s various projects, I’m surprised that Seamount (or Rahzhyr Mahklyn, for that matter) haven’t conceived of a “computational engine” yet. I’m just sayin’….

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