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Frequently Asked Questions

Perhaps it is because of the nature of the books that David writes, perhaps it is because David Weber's fans are unusually dedicated and inquisitive... but it seems that everyone has a question! Here are a few that David finds he gets asked most often.

If you have a question that you would like to see considered as a FAQ, please e-mail us at Responses will be posted if and when David can get to them. We'd love to hear from you! 

Series Question Posted
Safehold Why didn't King Haarahld move to defeat the forces in their ports instead of Darcos Sound? (Asked Fri May 31, 2013) December 2013

In no particular order:

(1) Haarahld could not possibly move against any force launched against Charis by the Church until that force had first moved against Charis. You do remember the Church? The all-powerful, Mother of Men, servant of God, authorized by the Archangels, keeper of souls, and general all round font of wisdom and justice? That Church? Haarahld understood (even better than Merlin, who didn’t know anything about the brethren of Saint Zherneau at that point, realized he did) that no secular realm could even think about moving against any Church-supported, Church-mandated alliance except in self-evident self-defense. That meant he had to wait until (A) he had a plausible means of knowing that the attack was coming which could be publicly demonstrated and (B) until the forces and people committed to that attack were unequivocably identified. Therefore, he literally could not attack Emerald until he “discovered” Emerald’s intention to attack Charis, and he needed the Corisandian fleet elements in Emeraldian waters before he could do that. You may remember the lengths that he (or Cayleb, at least) went to to suggest that King Gorjah’s court had been the source of the information that sent the galleons off to meet Malikai and White Ford so far from home. However, it’s worth noting that even though Charis ostensibly had that advanced warning, Cayleb didn’t actually attack until well after the Corisandian galleys had rendezvoused with the Emeraldian galleys and provided Haarahld with the proof that he was fighting a defensive war rather than impiously raising his merely mortal hand against Mother Church in blasphemous, unprovoked defiance of God's will. (And I should point out that the Corisandian and Chisholmian contingents actually arrived at Eraystor as a joint force, little though they liked one another. They didn’t straggle in over a period of five-days or arrive separately which means that your "engage them individually at sea" strategy would have put him up against a larger force than you appear to be assuming.)

(2) His ability to find and engage the Corisandian and Chisholmian elements at sea would have been far from certain. Of course, he could have retained Merlin aboard his flagship as his own tame wizard, rather than sending him off with Cayleb, but he had what were in his opinion (and mine) enormously better reasons to send Cayleb and the galleons (and Merlin) off to Armageddon Reef. See below.

(3) His galley fleet was considerably weaker than its “paper” strength thanks to the diversions of men, matériel, and artillery to the galleons. His numerical advantage over the Corisandian/Chisholmian fleet (which was traveling in company) was not as large as you appear to be thinking, and he could pretty much have counted on its getting smaller with the losses he would almost inevitably take against the Eraystor fortifications (and the Emeraldian Navy) if he’d gone into Eraystor Bay after Nahrmahn’s ships. See below.

(4) There were really good and sound reasons for him not to attack Eraystor’s port fortifications with only his understrength galley fleet. They were called guns. Lots of guns. The fact that I didn’t take you on a tour of the batteries certainly shouldn’t suggest they weren’t there, unless you can think of another reason why he wasn’t sending in fire ships against the combined fleets? I promise you it wasn’t out of the goodness of his heart or because he’d forgotten to bring along the marshmallows. I could have done a chapter with his discussing why he couldn’t attack the fortifications in an “As you know, Bob” sort of format, but I personally took it as a given that the Eraystor naval facilities, at least, were reasonably well fortified and provided with artillery. No, it wasn't the "modern" artillery aboard the Charisian galleons, but then his galleys didn't have "modern" artillery, either. They would have been forced to engage old-style artillery using old-style tactics, aside from the single squadron armed with carronades, and that would have been a seriously losing proposition. And there were very good reasons why he didn't use the galleons against those fortifications. See below.

(5) Sending the galleon fleet off to intercept the Dohlaran and Tarotisian fleet elements off Armageddon Reef allowed him to use them under conditions which would maximize their advantages, minimize their disadvantages vis-à-vis galleys, and put the enemy galley fleet at a critical disadvantage. In shallower, more confined waters, where the galleys could make better use of their greater speed and mobility, the galleons’ combat advantages would have been considerably less. Now, it can certainly be argued — after the fact — that the galleons proved capable of decisive action at Darcos Sound, which is arguably “confined waters,” but it was one heck of a lot less confined than Eraystor Bay would have been. Moreover, for all of Haarahld’s faith in Merlin, and all the fact that he belonged to the inner circle, neither he nor any other Safeholdian had ever seen galleons in combat before. He was, therefore, not about to risk finding out that their artillery was not in fact superior to the Emeraldian artillery protecting the fleet anchorages or automatically assume that they would have been as successful against galleys in the sorts of waters galleys had been designed to fight in until that fact had been demonstrated in practice.

(6) Haarahld was, indeed, intelligent enough to recognize the advantages in defeating his enemy in detail. That is, in fact, exactly what he did. He chose to hit the combined Dohlaran-Tarotisian force at its most vulnerable and when it would be psychologically least prepared for combat. By doing so, he preserved the secret of the galleons’ broadside armaments until they had already been used to decisively blunt and defeat that arm of the Church’s offensive. Had he used them earlier and had even a single galley gotten away to Tarot and gained access to the semaphore system, the Dohlarans would certainly have been diverted to Tarot, which would have made that portion of the Church’s attack force much, much harder to get at.

(7) If the galleons proved as effective in combat as everyone on the Charisian side hoped they would, then he would be able to engage the combined galley fleet of the entire “northern force” in a single body and almost certainly crush it once Cayleb returned from Armageddon Reef. He intended from the beginning to amass a crushing superiority before he finally engaged them, although he didn’t realize until Merlin’s visit to his flagship that it would be possible to coordinate a genuine pincer attack against Black Water’s command. His original plan was to combine the galley and galleon fleets together into a single, irresistible hammer, and use that hammer to absolutely demolish the naval power of his foes in order to achieve what he did achieve in the end: a crushing Charisian sense of moral superiority and élan.

(8) Like Admiral Jellicoe, Haarahld could lose the war in an afternoon if he got unlucky against his opponents. As long as his fleet was in being and at sea, his enemies couldn’t land a significant invasion force in Charis. They had to destroy his fleet to accomplish their strategic goal; he merely had to keep his fleet intact to accomplish his strategic goal and avoid the invasion of Charis before Cayleb returned with the galleon fleet to reinforce them. In addition, of course, by keeping his fleet in being and keeping Black Water chasing him, he was able to play anvil to Cayleb’s hammer when the galleon fleet did return.

I’m sure I could adduce additional reasons to dispute your assumption that Haarahld failed to be “as sneaky as his enemies knew him to be.” The problem is that if you don’t already grasp the reasons why he had to (a) stand on the defensive until he was clearly the attacked party, (b) avoid losses to the Eraystor defenses, (c) employ his galleons for the first time under conditions which would give them the maximum tactical advantages and maximize the shock effect of being hit so far from home by a totally new and completely unexpected naval force; and (d) attain the maximum devastation of any opposing navy’s morale when it contemplated fighting the Royal Charisian Navy, then I doubt I’m going to be able to explain it to you.

Safehold Why can't Charis have electricity? (Asked Sun May 12, 2013) December 2013

Okay, a few points, some of which I'm pretty sure I've addressed before.

(1) You could have a damned large industrial process on a planet, including use of electricity in many and manifold ways, without producing a big enough electromagnetic signature to be easily picked out against the background noise of any star.

(2) Any signature you were radiating could expand only at the speed of light, attenuating the entire way.

(3) Safehold is hundreds of light years beyond the Gbaba's sphere, and the overwhelming evidence at the time of the Gbaba's attack on humanity was that the Gbaba do not aggressively patrol beyond the borders of their own sphere. Rather, they react to incursions into their sphere with the equivalent of a "hot pursuit" response and the extermination of the interloper to be sure he'll never come back. This means that even if Safehold was radiating radio energy out the wahzoo, it would be centuries — quite a few of them, in fact — before any of their radiated energy could be detected by the Gbaba unless the Gbaba happened to be in the area looking for it.

Because of this, the original mission orders for Operation Ark called for a hiatus in which there would be no electromagnetic footprint from Safehold for a long enough period of time for them to be fairly confident that any actively searching Gbaba scout ships had swept through the area and gone home again. There was never any particular concern over what was going to happen after that hiatus was over, because at that time Safehold would be far enough away from any hostile detectors to be beyond threat until it had had plenty of time to rebuild and advance its technology to a "Gbaba-proof" level. (As a "historical" validation of their assumptions, the mission planners could look at the fact that Earth's radio emissions had had ample time to reach well beyond her most distant colony before the Gbaba responded. In other words, they had empirical evidence that the Gbaba hadn't detected them despite radio emissions until they entered the Gbaba's sphere.)

The basis for the Church's prohibition of anything touching on the rakurai is threefold.

First, one of the underlying assumptions of the Proscriptions is that true, large-scale technology is impossible to develop without electricity. Or, put another way, electricity is going to be developed by anybody on his way through to large-scale, advanced technology. Therefore, banning electricity effectively bans large-scale technology and serves as a warning flag that it's being developed.

Second, artificially generated and distributed electricity is something that would be readily detectable from orbit and not something likely to be confused with any natural phenomenon.

And, third, the notion of lightning as sacred and not, under any circumstances, to be profaned by mortal hands provides the permanent remembrance of not just Langhorne's existence but of the consequences of Langhorne's wrath.

Now, at the same time that Langhorne was setting up the prohibition of advanced technology, he was making provision for the "archangels" and "angels" to continue to use very advanced technology to validate their supernatural powers. Merlin's SNARCs are using shielded, stealthed communications arrays designed to hide from hostile tactical sensors — aimed against the Gbaba, at the time the SNARCs were built, but equally effective against any sensors the orbital array might mount — and walking in the footsteps of the technology Langhorne himself ruled was usable by the "archangels." Moreover, there is a quantum leap between the initial production of electricity and the highly advanced applications of it inherent in Merlin's toys. In effect, it would be relatively simple to build a protocol into the bombardment platform's sensors (assuming, of course, that the sensors are actually prepared to blast technology on the planetary surface in the first place) which differentiates between "technology so advanced it must be being used by the 'archangels'" and "technology so crude that it couldn't be being used by the 'archangels.'" If it's the latter, it needs to be smitten . . . quickly; if it's the former, leave it alone because it's being used on Langhorne's business.

In that respect, Merlin is hiding in the shadow of the original archangels. Although that, of course, assumes that all of his carefully stealthed technology is detectable in the first place. He has no intention of giving away any more detectable signature than he can avoid, of course, but from the perspective of the reader that "shadow" should always be borne in mind

As for Nimue's Cave, it's buried beneath 7.5 miles of solid rock and iron ore. During the period before her PICA woke up, the entire installation was, indeed, at absolutely minimal levels of power, and its primary power source when it came back online is a geothermal tap, so there's no betraying emission of burned hydrocarbons or neutrinos to give it away. Assuming that it was possible for Nimue to excavate a similar underground complex and install a major generating system there, and find the labor force to work in that complex without popping flags with its members about violations of the Proscriptions, then, yes, Charis could have electricity for applications which require it. Of course, digging something that size in anything less than several decades without using technology which in its self would probably trigger the arrays (assuming that they are triggerable). And, equally of course, they might find it a bit difficult to explain to the rest of their workforce where the products being produced using that electricity were coming from and how they were being produced.

The bottom line is that no one in Charis really knows whether or not generated and distributed electricity would trigger a bombardment. They suspect that it would, and in this instance they prefer to err on the side of safety, but they certainly don't know it. On the other hand, they do know that "profaning the rakurai" would represent a crossing of the Rubicon. It would be an open, explicit defiance of the Proscriptions which no one could argue away. That is something they cannot afford at this time or, indeed, at any time until after the proscriptions themselves have been successfully invalidated/overturned following the "reveal" of the truth about Langhorne and the archangels.

So while there are what you might call "technical issues" bound up in the uncertainty of how the bombardment platform would respond, there is also an overriding reason — found in the Proscriptions — why electricity is impossible. In the meantime, the electronic footprint of Merlin's stealthed recon skimmer, the SNARCs singular transmissions, the personal coms of the inner circle, etc., are extraordinarily difficult to detect in the first place and (apparently :lol: ) trapped in the filters that were established to allow the "archangels" to employ technology.

Don't know if all of that really makes it any clearer, but there it is. :)

Safehold King Harahld VII Design. (Posted Mon Apr 29, 2013) December 2013

It would be nice if no military, including that of the Charisian Empire, ever found itself buying something that turned out to be more than it needed. Unfortunately, it doesn't work out that way. For example, the Alaska-class cruisers, which were truly magnificent ships, but which spent around 5 months — total — in commission before they were pulled from service and, eventually, scrapped. Which is to say, that these ships may, indeed, the “excess to requirements” at the time they are ordered and built. (You may recall that I've allowed even the Royal Manticoran Navy to make a few . . . questionable purchases over the years. :)

Having said that, however, they may or may not be “overkill” for Charis’ needs, depending on exactly what it is they have in mind to do with them. And, since I’m not going to tell you about the plot for the next book at this point, I’m not going to discuss whether or not they end up being the aforesaid overkill. :P

There is, however, another underlying motive for building these ships, and that is to inescapably drive home the war-fighting superiority of Charisian technology. Driving home that superiority is seen by the inner circle not simply as a morale weapon designed to induce earlier surrenders, but also as a means to compel the defeated realms fighting for the Church to recognize that they literally cannot survive on the battlefield — whether afloat or ashore — without duplicating that technology. The world at large will be told that these ships were necessary — just as the new model artillery, cartridge-firing small arms, new steel mills, pneumatically-powered machine tools, etc., were necessary — in order to defend Charis against the Group of Four’s unprovoked attack. And, to be sure, Charis did require hugely enhanced combat abilities to survive. However, what the rest of the world at large won’t be told is that the inner circle desires to create an environment which brutalizes every other ruler or realm on Safehold in such a way as to compel them into jumping on the “the-innovation-genie-is-out-of-the-bottle” train right behind Charis.

In some ways, it’s a risky game, because if the coalition the Church put together for the jihad stays together as a long-term power bloc opposed to the Charisian Empire, and if that power bloc manages to equalize its industrial capabilities with those of Charis (and there is something of a ceiling imposed on Charis by the inability to use electricity), then Charis is in serious trouble in the event of any eventual Round 2. On the other hand, the inner circle has decided that courting that risk has to be a fundamental component of its overall strategy for ultimately dealing with the Church and the bombardment platforms against the backdrop of the millennial “return of the archangels” it now expects.

In reply to the question some other people have been asking about what happened to the other 2 10” guns of the original King Haarahld VII revision, I did, indeed, drop them from my SpringSharp-checked second design when I realized how many more 8” and 4” I could fit into the same displacement. Those lighter guns are the ships’ primary anti-ship armament anyway, so I decided I could live with single-mount 10” weapons, instead. I may still do exactly that, but since people asked, here’s what the KH VIIIs would look like if I went back to the twin-mount layout, instead. Notice that the ship gets a little larger in the process, and there were a couple of other tweaks I had to make to maintain structural strength. The worst aspect of adding the guns is that deep draft goes up to 46’, which is going to make problems in terms of channel depth and harbor depths. Part of that can be solved by increasing length and beam, but that drives tonnage even higher and starts creating some problems for the construction technique I’ve envisioned for building the ships. Cost rises by less than 2% overall by simply adding in the additional pair of 10”guns, so I’m going with the figure stated here.


King Harahld VII,
Imperial Charisian Navy armored cruiser
Laid down: 896 (Kings Harbor Dockyard)
Barbette ship

10,120 t light; 11,005 t standard; 12,819 t normal; 14,270 t full load

Length (overall): 465.17’
Length (waterline): 435’
Beam: 77’
Draft (normal): 23’6”
Draft (deep): 46’

4 x 10" 40 cal BL guns, M 896 (2x2) in centerline open barbette mounts.
(508-pound AP shell, 150 rounds per gun)
14 x 8" 40 cal BL guns, M 896 (14 x 1) in broadside casemate mounts.
(260-pound AP shell, 200 rounds per gun)
12 x 4" 45 cal BL guns, M 896 (12 x 1) in broadside open mounts with shields
(32.5-pound AP shell, 250 rounds per gun)

Main: 6” (max), 2” (min), length = 280’; height = 15’; inclined 10°
Ends: 2.5” (uniform), length equals 151’; height equals 15’

Uniform thickness = 1.5” in single armored deck.

Conning tower:
Uniform thickness = 6”

Gun armor:
10”/40: gunshield (face) = 6”; gunshield (side) = 6”; barbette = 6”
8”/40: casemate = 6”; shell hoist = 6”
4”/45: gunshield (face & side) = 2”; shell hoist = 6”

Coal-fired boilers, triple-expansion steam engines,
Direct drive, 2 shafts, 1,418 sdp (36,159 ihp) = 28.3 knots (24.6 Old Earth knots)
Range 12,000nm at 10.00 kts
Bunkerage at max displacement = 3,266 tons
Bunkerage at normal displacement = 1,814 tons

602 - 783

CM 1,850,000

Distribution of weights at normal displacement:
Armament: 917 tons, 7.2 %
Armor: 3,030 tons, 23.6 %
Belts: 1,338 tons, 10.4%; Guns: 928 tons, 7.2%; Deck: 693 tons, 5.4%; CT: 71 tons, 0.6%
Machinery: 2,411 tons, 18.8 %
Hull, fittings & equipment: 3,763 tons, 29.4 %
Fuel, ammunition & stores: 2,699 tons, 21.1 %

Overall survivability and seakeeping ability:
Survivability (Non-critical penetrating hits needed to sink ship = 35.5 x 10"
Stability (Unstable if below 1.00): 1.27
Metacentric height 5.2 ft
Roll period: 14.2 seconds
Steadiness as gun platform (Average = 50 %): 99 %
Seaboat quality (Average = 1.00): 1.23

Hull form characteristics:
Hull has raised forecastle, low quarterdeck, extended bulbous bow, & transom stern
Block coefficient (normal/deep): 0.570 / 0.324
Length to Beam Ratio: 5.65 : 1
'Natural speed' for length: 28.54 knots (24.8 Old Earth knots)
Power going to wave formation at top speed: 61 %
Trim (Max stability = 0, Max steadiness = 100): 80
Bow angle (Positive = bow angles forward): 40.00 degrees
Stern overhang: 5.00 ft / 1.52 m
Freeboard: maximum = 30’; minimum = 15’; average = 20’6”

Ship space, strength and comments:
Hull below water (magazines/engines, low = better): 85.8 %
Above water (accommodation/working, high = better): 157.0 %
Waterplane Area: 24,808 Square feet
Displacement factor (Displacement / loading): 121 %
Structure weight / hull surface area: 123 lbs/sq ft or 599 Kg/sq metre
Hull strength (Relative):
Cross-sectional: 0.91
Longitudinal: 2.67
Overall: 1.01
Adequate machinery, storage, compartmentation space
Excellent accommodation and workspace room
Ship has slow, easy roll, a good, steady gun platform
Good seaboat, rides out heavy weather easily

NOTE: with the twin 10” gun mounts restored, this design compares to HMS Triumph (1903) which mounted 4 x 10”; 14 x 7.5”; and 14 x 14-pounders (3”); with 3-7” belt armor, 1-3” deck armor, 11” conning tower armor, 8-10” turret armor, 2-10” barbettes, and 7” casemates; 12,175 tons (load displacement); 436’x 71’x 25’4”; 21.9 knots (19 Old Earth knots); 6,250 miles@11.5 knots (10 Old Earth knots). I hadn’t looked at Triumph when I started playing with the design, because I’d forgotten that she’d ever existed (although she served in the Royal British Navy, she was actually designed and built by Vickers for the Chilean Navy and only ended up in the RN because the Brits bought her from Chile to prevent her from being sold to Russia during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904). Once I'd turned KH VIII back into a pre-dreadnought battleship from an armored cruiser, however, I decided to see if I could find a historical pre-dreadnought she compared to, and I think I found one. :) Bear in mind that Triumph carried her main armament in turrets rather than gunshields.

Triumph is within 2% of KH VIII’s normal load displacement, carries the same main battery, the same number of secondary guns (7.5”-vs-8”), and 2 more tertiary guns (3”-vs-4”), but she’s 30% slower and has only 52% of the KH VIII’s endurance. Her design draft is about 2’ deeper than KH VIII’s, but I’m not sure what she’d look like at deep load draft, when she would displace about 800 tons more than the Charisian ship.

One point that needs to be borne in mind looking at these two designs, however, is that Triumph had to be designed on the theory that she would face guns equal to her own, whereas KH VIII is not. That allowed me to do a few things Triumph's designers couldn't. In addition, the real-world design had to worry about torpedos and mines, and KH VIII doesn't.

Taking everything into consideration, I’m actually pleased with how close to the historical ship my design works out. And I’d have to say that the outcome demonstrates that the SpringSharp software does do a pretty good job of modeling real life ship design.

Safehold When is Merlin going to introduce the concept of Special Forces to Charis? (Asked Thu Nov 01, 2012) December 2013

I think people are vastly overrating what "special forces" could do for Safehold.

If you have a mission suitable to be carried out by "fast-moving cavalry," you don't need "special forces," you need cavalry. And from a reconnaissance perspective, you can't embed "special forces" in distant locations and have reliable transmission of information in anything remotely like real-time terms. You can send out patrols with messenger wyverns — except, of course, that the messenger wyverns will return to their "home" roost which may not be where you need the information — but you don't need some sort of super elite special forces for that; you simply need reasonably well-trained cavalry. Nor is there a crying need for forces trained to conduct "irregular warfare." This isn't the American frontier in 1776, and for the most part units like Roger’s Rangers aren't what you're going to need in a war fought across it. In a lot of ways, the terrain constraints are more like Europe in the late nineteenth century, and unless you want to inspire a full-fledged guerrilla warfare model behind the lines, using organized, openly operating military units to accomplish your goals is going to be much more economical in terms of training, manpower, and consequences to the civilian population.

The sort of information that "special forces" could provide to a commander in the field is exactly the sort of information that he ought to be able to gather with the scouting forces already assigned to him. That's one of the things the "scout-snipers" were organized to provide in the first place, hence the "scout" in their title. With the creation of the Imperial Charisian Army, the "scout-snipers" concept has evolved/been modified somewhat, although they remain recon specialists whose function is to very quietly slip behind, through, or around enemy lines in order to gather tactical information. The primary reconnaissance function, however, is now provided by mounted reconnaissance troops, and the "reach" of recon is — and will remain in a pre-radio world — very limited. The sorts of tactical data that SNARCs make available to a field commander are generally (not always, but generally) going to be the same sorts of tactical information those trained scouts and their mounted counterparts can provide. In those instances where more "mundane" means cannot duplicate the tactical information gathering capability, there's probably no way that someone could plausibly claim that the information had been gathered by those merely mortal scouts. In those instances, the commander who has access to the SNARCs — like Green Valley — simply has to "operate on a hunch" or rely on "instinct," exactly like Cayleb did when he and Merlin led the Navy around Crag Hook in the middle of a storm to attack Thirsk's ships. Or, for that matter, like Green Valley did in the Sylmahn Gap. There is no way that any plausible non-SNARC source of information could have openly provided to him the grasp of the enemy's deployments that he used to plan that attack . . . or time the orders that he gave during the actual engagement. At best, his initial understanding of the enemy's deployment's could have been based on "patrols moving along the lizard paths" in the cliffs above the gap floor, but there were no Charisian "special forces" in position — and couldn't have been — to provide it for him. And there is no way in the world that anyone could have plausibly provided him with an ongoing wyvern's-eye view of how the engagement was developing.

The 21st-century military is in love with the concept of "special forces," and they have pulled off some truly spectacular successes. They are not, however, the end-all and be-all of reconnaissance and scouting operations — or even sabotage operations — as some people appear to believe. Our present-day concept of special forces has a lot to do with the nature of the conflicts we face — low intensity warfare, antiterrorist operations, what we used to call "hearts and minds" operations, provision of training cadres, deniability, etc. — than with an inherent superiority of special forces warfare over conventional forces in an all out war for survival. The undeniable tendency for special forces organizations to siphon off noncoms and officers — and, of course, enlisted personnel — of superior quality always has a negative effect on the availability of those same officers, noncoms, and enlisted to the regular forces. In some circumstances, that siphoning effect is fully justified because the special forces give you capabilities the regular forces simply don't have. In the case of Safehold, however, where the "regulars" can do just about anything you need done, it's much harder to justify making that trade-off.

As far as making use of what we might call "strategic" information gathered by the SNARCs and passing it off as having been gathered by long-range, deep penetration special forces teams, why bother? You're already passing it off as information that was gathered by your spy network, so why introduce an unnecessary complication to your military forces to explain what you've already explained?

And, finally, from the perspective of infrastructure raids, Merlin, Cayleb, and Sharleyan are going to be far more comfortable with carrying them out using "conventional" cavalry forces whose path in and out to the attack infrastructure can be clearly traced and demonstrated (thus demonstrating that the attackers had to come from the outside) rather than special forces which infiltrate to their objective, attack, and then disappear again. The reason for this (as I've stated before) is that they have no desire to provoke Clyntahn into retaliatory raids against the local civilian population which "obviously" collaborated with the attackers or — almost equally culpable — didn't prevent the attack by spotting and reporting the attackers. It could be argued that from a suitably cold-blooded and calculating perspective provoking Clyntahn into additional atrocities can only undermine the authority of the Church of God Awaiting and the Inquisition, on the one hand, and provide recruits for an ever-intensifying guerrilla war in the Church's rear areas. The inner circle has considered that possibility . . . and rejected it.

From a moral perspective, they refuse to become Clyntahn, regarding anyone in the area of operations as expendable as long as it promotes and supports their tactical and operational objectives. They are fighting this war in no small part because of their belief in human dignity and freedom and the sanctity of human life. They refuse to compromise those objectives in any way they can possibly avoid, and they believe that adopting such morally abhorrent policies would ultimately undercut that overriding strategic goal. And from a pragmatic perspective, they don't need to provoke Clyntahn into committing additional atrocities to create all of the disgust, hatred, and passive and/or active resistance they could possibly desire because he's going to do it anyway. That much is already abundantly clear to them.

From a tactical perspective, they don't feel that they need the "assistance" of a lot of organized guerrilla groups, given the capabilities they already have, when those guerrillas' operations are only going to deepen and harden the fracture lines already splitting Safehold and leave a legacy not simply of mutual hatred but also a legacy of armed, embittered men prepared to resort to violence again. I would imagine that our own experiences in places like Sarajevo, the Middle East, and a dozen other spots around the globe could probably suggest at least part of their reason for their not wanting to create that sort of legacy unless there is an overwhelming tactical need for them to do so despite the downsides they are trying to avoid.

From a strategic perspective, they clearly don't need a "special forces" deep reconnaissance capability for military, industrial, and economic planning purposes. They've already established the existence of their spy networks, and even if you're going to operate on the assumption that creating a "special forces" organization would provide them with a more broad-based tool with which to legitimize SNARC-gathered information, it doesn't provide the interface to get that information into the hands of the commanders/planners who need it. Any information your "special forces" guys could gather and get to the rear through "mundane" channels would probably broaden an army commander's or an area commander's "reach," but it wouldn't help one bit with SNARC reconnaissance, because you'd still have to use someone or something – like Ahbraim Zhevons or Owl's letter-writing remotes — to insert the information into the chain at some point.

Please do note that I am most emphatically not saying that field commanders aren't going to need the very best intelligence they can get and that specially trained scouting and reconnaissance outfits aren't going to be a vital part of that intelligence gathering. Also note that I am most emphatically not ruling out behind-the-front attacks on infrastructure or other critical objectives. I'm simply saying that "special forces" in the 21st-century sense of the term are not going to be the best, most economical way to acquire those capabilities on Safehold. And that "special forces" in the Safeholdian sense of the term already exist within the Imperial Charisian Army. You may not have seen them in operation yet, but then, you've only seen the Imperial Charisian Army fight a single battle under extraordinarily constricted conditions of terrain where Safeholdian "special forces" would have been of extremely limited utility.

Safehold Overview of education on Safehold. (Posted Fri Oct 26, 2012) December 2013

Okay, a few points about education on Safehold. I don't know whether or not this is going to make it front and center in the books, although I've been looking for a plot strand to hook it to that would make sense to me. In the meantime, though, this is essentially what's going on.

First, let's define some terms in the way I'm going to be using them. Bear in mind that because of the difference between our present-day education systems and the way the Safeholdian educational system has been traditionally structured, "fifth grade" on Safehold isn't necessarily going to be the same thing as "fifth grade" in contemporary US practice. Bearing that in mind:

"Primary education" refers to what we would consider kindergarten to the end of the fifth grade. That is, the five years of education Cahnyr is thinking about in the passage several people have already referenced, which begins at age 6. "Secondary education" refers to classroom studies after the fifth year and through the tenth year. After tenth grade, we move to "college education," and we stay there through the end of the thirteenth year of education. From "fourteenth grade" (you should pardon the expression) on, we are normally talking about "university education." These terms are not necessarily absolutely hard and fast, but they define the range of years of schooling for the purposes of the following discussion.

(A) Who traditionally provides schooling on Safehold. Education on Safehold has never been compulsory, which goes a long way towards explaining the huge upsurge in illiteracy following the War Against the Fallen. At that point the original, terraformed enclaves were spreading out to reclaim the planet, lots and lots of hands were needed in the fields and the forests, and it was more important to get the work done than it was to educate the kids. That set the pattern that was followed for several centuries, so that even though Mother Church was officially offering free primary education to every single child of Mother Church, the majority of Safeholdians were not taking advantage of it. Education tended to be concentrated in the towns and cities because that was where there were enough young people whose parents were seeking education to make it practical for Mother Church to invest in the schools. Over the last few centuries, that pattern has begun to shift, and even the smallest village will have a "one room schoolhouse" with a clerical teacher there to provide the basics.

Within the above framework, the Church has historically been responsible for schooling throughout Safehold. The Archangels were smart enough to recognize that if Mother Church allowed education — and especially control of the curriculum — out of her hands, Safehold and the Church of God Awaiting would, you should pardon the expression, go to hell in a handbasket relatively quickly. In other words, secular education was right out. Instead, education was provided at the primary level by the Chihirite Order of the Quill but supervised by the Order of Schueler. Overseeing education, vetting the curriculum, selecting (or removing) teachers, etc., were all seen as responsibilities of the Inquisition as the keeper of allowable knowledge and people's souls. I believe we've already seen one intendant discussing the Inquisition's responsibility for education with his archbishop. In all of Safehold, prior to the emergence of the Church of Charis, there have been no "certified" secular teachers, and without Mother Church (i.e. the Inquisition's) approval, no one could teach in any primary or secondary scholastic setting.

Once the student transitions from secondary to "college education," it is possible for them to study under teachers who have not been certified by the Church or who are not themselves members of the clergy or one of the teaching orders. This is rare, but it does happen, and it normally occurs when you have the equivalent of an "expert in residence." That is, the instructor's knowledge base is sufficiently great that he represents a teaching asset which is too valuable for the Church to simply disallow. One example might be an especially skilled navigator who is teaching navigation despite the fact that he is not a churchman. Even those instructors, however, are going to be teaching under strict Church supervision to be certain that nothing pernicious creeps into their instruction.

The Church typically regards "university education" as falling into two categories: seminary and secular. By the time a student who is not himself intended for holy orders reaches the university level, the Inquisition has already had thirteen years to set its seal on his mental outlook and basic belief structure. At that point, students are free to pursue additional instruction from anyone who sets himself up as a teacher of a given subject. Traditionally, teachers are admitted to secular universities faculties on the basis of the number of students they can attract. It's actually more of a collection of tutors in specific areas who gradually acquire a number of paying students sufficient for them to begin offering lecture courses in addition to individual instruction. A student who is intended for holy orders attends seminary, instead, which is a much more structured, formally organized educational institution and program.

(B) How much does education cost? There is no charge for the first five years of primary education. It is provided by Mother Church to everyone at no expense, and the school day includes meals for the students. Mother Church pays for the books, for the slates, for the classrooms . . . everything, and the student emerges from those five years of education with basic literacy and basic math skills (remembering that the church was teaching Roman numerals pre-Merlin). A graduate of primary education has the ability to read the Holy Writ, The Commentaries, basic legal contracts, etc., for himself. The Church strongly encourages primary education for all Safeholdians, although that has not always been the case and even now it is not compulsory.

Secondary education, however, is not free. A student is required to pay for his own books, whatever additional school supplies are required, for his meals at school, and a "desk fee." The desk fee is set at what constitutes a nominal cost for a middle-class family, which means that it is cheaper than dirt from an aristocrat's perspective and incredibly dear from the perspective of a yeoman farmer. The Church does, however, sponsor a certain percentage of scholarship students, for whom the Church picks up the costs. Not all of these scholarship students are headed for holy orders by any means, however. Mother Church recognizes that the secular community is going to require an educated class, and these scholarships represent the Church's investment in providing them. In most cases where a family "cannot afford" to continue a child in secondary education, this actually represents a trade-off between the actual out-of-pocket cost and the lost earning opportunity represented if that child's labor is not available to the family. As far as the Church is concerned, once primary school has been completed, whether or not someone continues with his or her education is no longer the Church's decision, although particularly gifted children identified by their Church-provided primary teachers will often be offered the equivalent of Church scholarships to continue through secondary school, as well.

College level education is very much like secondary education, except that costs are higher and there are fewer "colleges" available. This has several consequences, but two of them are that: (1) because there are relatively few colleges, proximity to one of those which do exist is a major factor in the availability of "college-level" education, and (2) because there are so few colleges, there is much greater competition for admission to them. That competition is both academic (i.e., who has the better grades) and nonacademic (i.e., who has the most patronage or other clout with the faculty). Many colleges — indeed, the majority of them — got their start out of sponsorship by either an aristocratic family, one of the guilds, or a particularly successful merchant or banker (or merchant or banking family.) Note, however, that as I observed above, the vast, vast majority of teachers at the college level are still going to be provided by the Church. Suppose that the Zhahnsyn family decides to endow Zhahnsyn College in Old Province in the Republic of Siddarmark. First, they have to clear it with the Church. Then they have to petition the Church to provide properly accredited instructors. After that, they have to in effect assign control of the curriculum, the faculty, and the student body to the Church. Since no one on Safehold (prior to the current . . . unpleasantness) saw any reason why the Church shouldn't have complete control of education, this was an accepted state of affairs. And, to be fair to the Church, if a family endowed a college, that family was normally given a conscientious hearing by the Church where the governance and management of that college was concerned. In addition, the family endowing the college received the gratitude of the Church, which was expressed in memorial masses, indulgences, perhaps a reduction in tithes, etc. In any case, however, college education's costs normally place it well beyond the reach of any but the upper half of the middle class and the aristocracy.

University level education's costs are similar to those of the colleges, but the universities by their nature tend to be specialist schools. That is, someone who wants to study literature would choose a university which is inclined in that direction. Someone who wants to study history, would choose a university inclined in that direction. (Please note that this actually constitutes rather a flipping of real life practice, where universities are collections of colleges, with each college or school within the university dedicated to a particular branch of knowledge. I'm using the term "university" here to indicate a level of education beyond those of the normal college, and one whose faculty differs significantly from those of the completely Church-dominated/supplied "colleges," and I haven't yet come up with a better term for it.) Because the universities tend to be directed into individual, highly specialized fields, they are virtually never seen as a place someone goes to acquire "practical" knowledge for a business career or something of that sort. They do have a tendency to produce the majority of those secular-but-certified teachers at the college level, but they are much more a place to acquire finish, polish, the greatest imaginable erudition in your field, etc. As such, their student bodies are overwhelmingly dominated by the aristocracy. In fact, outside Charis, their student bodies are essentially totally aristocratic. The cost of university level education tends to account for a lot of that. College education will show a significant economic return on the investment of someone who acquires it; it is extraordinarily difficult to quantify the "return" for a traditional Safeholdian "university education."

(C) How does the "Royal College" differ from other colleges? As I suspect most of you have already begun to figure out from the above, one of the huge reasons for the Church's suspicions of the Royal College of Charis lies in the fact that the Ahrmahk dynasty sponsored the college but did not bring in Church-certified teachers. They got around that requirement by not offering courses, although everyone — including the Inquisition — recognized that the "no course offerings" posture of the College was in fact a fiction. The scholars at the Royal College did not have "students;" they had "assistants." They did not teach courses; they simply amassed and catalogued knowledge. The non-students at the College never left the College; they stayed and became researchers and/or librarians themselves. And the entire edifice was propped up and supported by the Crown's privy purse, with no support from Mother Church. Officially there was very little for the Inquisition or the Church to take issue with in the Royal College, since it was effectively a relatively small, closed society which acquired new members/scholars by invitation only, and (as noted above) had no students. The College was — officially — only a resource of the Crown, providing things like the Sailing Directions which have been mentioned in a couple of the books, drawing charts of normal weather patterns, collecting information about the proper design of sailing ship hulls, etc., and making that knowledge available as a reference tool to Charisian society as a whole. A lot of pre-Merlin Charisian innovation stemmed directly from the Royal College without its ever once accepting a single official "student."

Since the schism, however, and especially since Cayleb placed it openly under the protective wing of the Crown, the Royal College has begun to change. It is now a teaching institution, as well as a research institution, and it is in the process of becoming the model for a new, secular education system from the ground up. That's why Chestyr Aplyn was "admitted to the Royal College" at age 13. He is actually in a "secondary school" within the Royal College. (And, by the way, Hektor's ability to "pay for" his younger siblings' education has nothing to do with the Royal College, which charges no tuition. It has to do with the fact that he was able to finance Chestyr's education to the point at which he won admission to the College.) At an appropriate time, he will transition to the "college level," still within that educational system. And, eventually, assuming that his scholarly attainments justify it, he will become a fellow of the Royal College rather than a student at the Royal College.

Zhaspahr Clyntahn is not what one might call jumping with joy over the transformation taking place at the Royal College. Fortunately for his blood pressure, perhaps, he is not fully informed at this time of everything that's going on, but Irys Daykyn's attraction to the Royal College — and her fear, if you will, of what the Royal College is and, even more, of how Clyntahn is going to regard anyone who embraces it — stemmed in no small part from the change in teaching attitude represented by scholars who are . . . less securely fettered, let us say, by Mother Church. It is important to remember, however, that the new curriculum and the new non-clerical teachers at the Royal College are still subject to the approval of the archbishop of Charis and his intendant. That is the reason that we don't see the place being stormed by the Safeholdian equivalent of Luddites. The Temple Loyalists have already tried to burn it to the ground once; the Reformists who might be concerned about its "secularization" are confident in the judgment of Maikel Staynair and Paityr Wylsynn. Eventually, of course, this is likely to change . . . at which point the armed guards protecting its campus should discourage any fresh fire bugs.

(D) What do the child labor laws of Charis govern? Primary schooling in Charis begins at age 6 and ends at age 11; secondary school begins at age 11 and ends at age 17. That is, you attend primary school starting on your sixth birthday and ending on your eleventh birthday; you attend secondary school beginning on your eleventh birthday and ending on your seventeenth birthday. (Obviously if the school year ends between birthdays . . . . I point that out because if I don't some OCD individual is going to question me on it.)

The new child labor laws are designed to keep "school-aged children" out of the labor force. Under the new Charisian laws, it is illegal to employ anyone under the age of 17 in a manufactory or for paid labor anywhere. When the child labor laws were phased in, they began by removing anyone age 11 or younger from the workforce. In the second year, they removed anyone age 13 or younger. In the third year, they removed anyone age 16 or younger. This was designed primarily to allow employers to transition from child-based labor to adult-based labor. If someone was 14 in year one of the transition, then he was 16 in the second year, and 17 in the third year and could remain in the labor force throughout; if he was younger than 14, then he would be removed from the workforce before reaching his seventeenth birthday. For some families, this created significant economic hardships, and the Crown compensated for this by creating "Crown apprenticeships," although "compensation" was only a portion of the reason Cayleb and Sharleyan created them.

In essence, the Crown set up "technical schools" in which those individuals removed from the labor force by the child labor laws were trained in the new techniques being introduced into the modernizing manufactories and shipyards. Because the child labor law was phased in gradually, the Crown apprenticeship programs began with relatively small class sizes and the young people who had already been trained became available to assist in the training of those joining the program behind them. Edwyrd Howsmyn has been very, very active in the Crown apprenticeship program, and his manufactories have already profited significantly from it. Some of the more conservative manufactory owners, who hate the entire notion of child labor laws, who think it is unnatural to worry about children getting caught in the gears, are already beginning to pay the price for having turned their backs on the Crown apprenticeship program. And Howsmyn, Cayleb, Sharleyan, Maikel Staynair, and Merlin, who all regard the current "apprenticeship program" as the basic platform to provide trained workers — including retrained adults — which the modernizing Charisian industrial base is going to require, I'm moving steadily to open places in it to anyone who has completed at least primary school. It is, if you will, a way for the State to provide the training the Guild system theoretically provided without the infrastructure which serves to protect the guild masters from competition. In addition to the Crown, the Church of Charis is really behind this program and pushing hard.

The existence of the Crown apprenticeship program is one reason that the guilds in Chisholm are not going to be happy to see Charisian industrial innovation coming their way. That potential unhappiness is, in fact, a very significant stumbling block which is going to have to be overcome if Chisholm is going to begin to catch up with Charis in education and industrial capacity. Emerald is very happily going along with the Charisian model, but that's because the guilds in Emerald were never anywhere near as strong as they are in Chisholm and because Emerald has immediately in front of it as a near neighbor the example of the wealth and success Old Charis has attained because of its willingness to innovate. The commoners in Chisholm who are already Sharleyan's enthusiastic supporters are, by and large, going to recognize the advantages that this will offer their children, and in the long run it will probably actually strengthen the Crown in Chisholm, but it would be unwise to assume that Chisholm isn't going to experience a certain degree of . . . liveliness when these changes fully come home to roost.

(E) What about those very young midshipmen? Traditionally, the Royal Charisian Navy accepted midshipmen at around age 10. A family with "pull" could usually get a boy accepted a little younger than that — most often by "adjusting" his birthday on his midshipman's warrant.

Midshipmen, traditionally, have eschewed "book learning" in favor of the pragmatic business of learning their trade at sea. In essence, it was an old-fashioned apprentice program, with the midshipmen "apprenticed" to the Navy. Even before Merlin came along, Haarahld had been changing that pattern, however, providing for training in literacy, mathematics, etc., in addition to ship-handling, how to command a boarding party, and inconsequential things like that. [G] As is probably evident from Daivyn Daykyn's experiences in MT&T, the shipboard education program for midshipmen has become much more demanding than it used to be, and the new Naval Academy is going to push that even harder.

I'm not certain where most midshipmen/officers of Hektor's age are going to fit into the new model. That is, I don't know if experienced officers of his age are going to be required to attend the Academy for "polishing" or not. I tend to think not, however, but in either case the primary effort is going to be focused on admitting kids to the academy at the point at which they would otherwise be going into "secondary school" (that is, around age 11). They would get a year or so at sea, with a tutor embarked to see to their basic education during that period, during which they would have a chance to find out if they really wanted a naval career and the Navy would have a chance to see if they looked like good officer material. At the end of their year at sea, they would be transferred ashore to the academy, where they would spend the next 4 to 5 years in intensive schooling. Engineering school will certainly be a part of the academy curriculum, and their time ashore will be followed by a minimum of one additional year at sea before they can stand their lieutenants' exams. So these kids will be eligible for commissions as lieutenants at around 18. They will also be eligible to be sent for higher schooling at someplace like the Royal College before beginning their sea careers or moving into a staff officer track working for someone like Baron Seamount.

Within a fairly short time, you will see the Imperial Charisian Army Academy coming along, as well, organized in much the same way but with an eye towards land service.

(F) What's the endgame? The idea is that within, say, ten years, Charis is going to have an education system in place which is going to be turning out the people who can take the current Royal College's knowledge base and run with it, expanding it through study and original research. At the same time, the "Crown apprenticeship" programs will morph into Crown-sponsored and industry-sponsored technical training schools to provide the skilled workforce needed for the rapid innovation and expansion that Merlin, Cayleb, Sharleyan, and the rest of the Circle clearly realize is going to be necessary before the Empire can take the risk of telling the truth about Langhorne and Bédard. At the same time, the Naval Academy and Army Academy will have been turning out a steady supply of officers well-versed in the new technologies and inclined by their classroom experiences to be open to and accept the truth when it comes along.

All of this is cooking away in the background, but I've been hesitant to bring it into the foreground because I'm already spending so much time with infrastructure building. As I say, if I'm going to really make this information available to the readers, I have to find a plot strand that I'm satisfied will move ahead in the storyline in general but also give me an opportunity/reason to lay all of this — or much of it, at any rate — out for the general reader. Folks on the forums here who have an especially deep interest in the background of the books will probably be happy as bugs in rugs reading about it here, but I'm not too sure that the average Safehold reader is going to want to see all of this explained between battle scenes. (G)

Safehold Grab Bag of Questions, Part 3 (Asked Thu Oct 11, 2012) December 2013

A few points in response to this entire thread (or the last several posts in it, at any rate), and not all directed to you, FriarBob. Your post just happened to be where I dived in, so you're the one who got quoted. [G]

First, railroads and telegraphs.

FriarBob is correct that most of the early railroads are going to be relatively short-haul, which, after all, was what happened right here on Earth. Cayleb and Sharleyan are going to be pushing for longer-ranged lines as quickly as they can get them, however, and they're going to be a lot more practical than some people seem to assume.

The semaphore system would be perfectly suitable for any daytime requirement. It transmits at an average speed of 600 miles per hour (that allows for message transcription at each intervening station) which is more than enough to control each block of track for a train system whose engines are unlikely to move at speeds in excess of 40-50 mph for a long time to come. Not all of the semaphore chains have the ability to transmit through darkness, especially at the present, but many of them do, and it would certainly be possible to build that capability into more closely spaced stations along the routes of the central rail lines.

Moreover, someone (either in this thread or another one) commented on the need for arc lights (which would imply electricity) for really powerful signaling lamps to provide reliable nighttime semaphore capability. This is not necessarily true, and, in fact, Howsmyn is currently experimenting with an alternative to arc lights to illuminate his factories during the after-sunset shifts. It's called calcium or limelight, and it does not require electricity and is capable of providing some very powerful searchlights and/or signal lamps.

The actual "reach" of the communications systems necessary to make rail traffic work safely is much shorter than a lot of people seem to be assuming. If schedules are set ahead of time and adhered to, and if each line is divided into blocks of track which are, say, 50 miles long (at least 1 hour travel time for any train, 5 minutes transmission time for the existing semaphore system), safety would not be an issue. Double track the line, put in a traffic control station every 50 miles (i.e., at each end of each lock of track) with a red/green/yellow signal light for night use, install a siding at each of those stations so that a train can be shunted off the mainline to let someone with higher priority through, and "failsafe" the system so that traffic is allowed in only one direction on each of the twin tracks, and you could maintain a high level of safe and efficient rail service. The fact that the electric telegraph coincided with the introduction of railroads on a large scale and that its availability made it the logical, most efficient way to control rail traffic most assuredly does not mean that it was the only method of control which could have been used. The availability of rails, engines, and rolling stock will be a far greater obstacle for construction and expansion of railroads them the ability to safely manage their traffic.

BTW, someone commented on the fact that railroads are more efficient than barge traffic. That's true only for certain definitions of "efficient." In our experience here on Earth, rail nets have been denser and more diversified than canals. You can ship things to more places by rail then you can by canal, and for a time, industrial development and the mass distribution of goods were largely tied to where the rails went. Then along came internal combustion and the advent of the trucking industry. All of a sudden, secondary rail lines became less important because trucks could collect the goods from nodal points and deliver them hundreds of miles away by highway. In fact, however, it remains far more "efficient" in terms of load size, manpower, and fuel-per-ton to transport goods by rail than by truck over equivalent distances assuming the rail line is available .

Railroads bear the same relationship to canals that trucks bear to railroads; that is, it is more economical to transport goods by barge than by rail over equivalent distances assuming that the barge is available. The mainland on Safehold has a relatively dense canal network, and it has draft dragons filling something of the same transportation niche as the transfer truck does in the 20th and 21st—century US, so it's something of a false argument to assert that railroads are more efficient. For that matter, it would be interesting to see how the maintenance costs on a couple of thousand miles of railroad trackage, including all of the trestles, tunnels, mountain cuts, etc., compared to the maintenance costs on the same length of canals. I have no idea how the ratio would work out, but I wouldn't be too surprised to find out that the canals — despite a greater initial capital investment in construction costs — might compare favorably to railroads which are being constantly beaten up by hundreds or thousands of tons of traffic rolling over them.

Second, cross country steam powered transport.

Guys, they are years away from having this kind of capability. Useful numbers of APCs or tanks would require a huge output in relatively small steam engines, and steam engine output is going to be dedicated to industrial, maritime, and rail applications (in that order of priority) for the foreseeable future. So, no, we're not going to see the Imperial Charisian Army rolling towards Zion in steam powered M113s anytime soon.

Some of the objections raised to the use of steam, however, are fairly readily overcome. I think it was PeterZ who commented that the waste heat from a steam power plant would make it impractical in an APC or a tank. When considering that, however, one might want to consider that the operating temperature of a modern internal combustion engine is often above the melting point of the materials from which it's built. An oil fired steam engine (or one fed by powdered coal) in a separate, heavily insulated engine compartment (which is where APC and tank designers routinely put internal combustion engines) with proper exhaust and ventilation would be thoroughly workable. Don't forget that the M1A2's exhaust gas temperature is 930° F. The temperature from any practical steam plant would probably not be much if any higher than that and, in fact, would far more likely be lower (the USN didn't go to 850° steam until the North Carolina-class), and using a Doble spiral boiler tube would hold down the quantities of live steam being produced considerably. Coupled with an engineering compartment equivalent of the Abrams’ blowout ammunition compartment, the dangers of the power plant would be almost entirely obviated. I'm not saying that anyone's going to do that anytime soon, however, if only for the reasons cited above, but the technical objections to the plan, as opposed to the industrial capacity objections to it, are not the reason they won't.

Third, poison gas is going to be a nonstarter for several reasons.

One is the problem of manufacturing it in quantity, although that could probably be overcome. A second reason not to use it would be the question of how you deliver it to the enemy . . . without delivering it to yourself. The prevailing winds on the mainland are from west to east, which is going to be just a bit of a problem where the use of an atmosphere-borne lethal or incapacitating agent is concerned. A third reason would be the incredible difficulty which even Charis would encounter (anytime in the next five years or so, at any rate) with providing gas masks even to its own troops (far less its civilian population) in anything like adequate/sufficient numbers. A fourth reason is that introducing such a weapon would absolutely validate the Church's claims that Charis is in the service of Shan-wei. That would be partly because of the horrible nature of the weapon itself, but it would also play from the Holy Writ's descriptions of the Fallen Archangel Grimaldi and his works. And a fifth reason (which would trump all the others) is that neither Cayleb nor Sharleyan would ever countenance its use . . . unless, of course, they could somehow figure out a way to deliver it only to the inquisitors attached to the Army of God.

Fourth, trench warfare and the need to overcome it.

The trench warfare paradigm isn't necessarily going to apply on Safehold, even should breech-loading rifles, and/or magazine rifles and machine guns (whether gas-operated, recoil-operated, or externally powered) become available to both sides. One of the false lessons learned from World War One was that trench warfare was the norm, rather than the exception, without armored fighting vehicles. That's probably not too surprising, given the slaughter on the Western Front, but you might want to take a look at what happened on the Eastern Front.

Trench warfare happens when the attacker has only one or only a limited number of easily predictable approaches to his objective. Logistics are often a limiting factor when it comes to approach routes, which is what happened to the Germans’ plans in 1914; their turning movement outran the speed of their horse-drawn logistics at the very time that the French (rail) lines of communication were being shortened and compressed, which led to Joffre’s ability to re-concentrate troops in the German’s path. And that, in turn, allowed him to launch the counteroffensive that pushed the Germans back and forced them onto the defensive. At that point, the Germans dug-in, and the "race to the sea" began as both sides attempted to get around the other side's field fortifications. Unfortunately, the North Sea got in their way at one end, the Swiss frontier got in the way at the other end, and the industrialized states going to war had sufficient population — and sufficient industrial and agrarian efficiency — that they could put literally multiple millions of men into military service. It was the ratio of combat power to the limited length of the front (only about 700 miles, if I remember correctly), coupled with (a) the lethality of the infantry weapons and artillery available, (b) the ability of the industrial plant behind the lines to supply ton after ton of ammunition, (c) the ability of rail transport to move the mountains of supplies and replacement manpower required to sustain the field armies in place, and (d) the ability of both sides to replace both manpower and equipment losses on such a scale because they were industrialized, which created trench warfare on the Western Front. That didn't happen on the Eastern Front, mostly because neither side produced anything like the same ratio of manpower to space. There was always room to get around the other side's flank and both sides had to operate at the end of fairly long logistics pipelines.

Not even Charis has anything like 1914 levels of industrial capability at this time; certainly the Church doesn't, and even if either side had it, the ratio between the space available for military operations and the numbers of men either side will actually be able to put into the field, would greatly favor mobile operations along of the lines World War I's Eastern Front or Sherman’s March to the Sea. To be perfectly honest, the only reason that Grant and Lee hammered it out in what amounted to trench warfare in the final phases of the American Civil War was the proximity of the two national capitals. The Confederacy couldn't afford to lose Richmond; the Federals couldn't afford to lose Washington; and Grant had grasped the essential fact that as long as he kept attacking, Lee had no choice but to defend. His entire job was to pin the Army of Virginia right where it was while Sherman devastated the Confederacy's rear areas, and he did it by wading straight into heavily dug-in Confederate positions in places like Cold Harbor and Petersburg. Take a look at how radically those tactics differed from the ones he had employed in the Western Theater, where the ratio of manpower to space was so much lower. There will always be times when the defender is able to heavily entrench knowing that the enemy has to come to him on his own terms — as in the Sylmahn Gap or when Brigadier Taisyn plugged the Church of God Awaiting's line of advance down the Daivyn River — and in those situations something very like trench warfare is going to occur, but that's been true for as long as organized warfare has existed (Battle of Thermopylae, anyone?) For that kind of a battle, tanks and/or APCs offer a potential solution, but tanks operating in the Sylmahn Gap wouldn't have found the terrain much more suitable to their proper employment than the Allied armor advancing through the Italian mountains towards Rome found their terrain. (Battle of Monte Casino, anyone?)

The one item from my list above of what allowed the combatants in the First World War to sustain their deadlocked troops on the Western Front for years on end which Safehold would probably come closest to possessing at this time is (c), the ability to transport supplies, courtesy of the existence of dragons. However, the existence of those dragons and their relatively high sustained cross-country speed would also contribute hugely to the ability to mount and sustain mobile operations.

What matters in mobile operations is less the absolute speed of either side than the ratio between their speeds. If one side has a marked advantage in the speed with which it can advance, maneuver, and supply its advanced troops, it is able to dictate the tempo, pace, and (generally) location of operations. Thus, mechanized armies can "march" rings around leg infantry relying on animal transport, as the German panzer divisions and corps demonstrated in the early phases of World War II. They weren't the first force to demonstrate that, of course, as Europe’s armored knights and heavy cavalry found out against the Mongols. Or, for that matter, as Alexander the Great demonstrated to his opponents. As long as the relative speeds of the opposing forces remain roughly equivalent, the defender usually has the advantage, because under normal circumstances he's going to be falling back towards that which he needs to defend, whereas the attacker is trying to either break through his position or somehow get around it, which is usually going to mean that his logistics chain is longer and that any flank marches he attempts are going to have farther to go. By no means, however, should it be assumed that the situation on Safehold, outside specific terrain areas like the Sylmahn Gap, the Green Cove Trace, and the line of the Daivyn River is going to lend itself to anything remotely like trench warfare, Western Front style. For that matter, bear in mind what happened to Brigadier Taisyn and his men in the end. They had a heavily fortified position, but they couldn't retreat and lacked the manpower to mount any sort of mobile opposition to Kaitswyrth's advance around their position. In other words, mobile warfare and numbers completely trumped fortified position and superior weaponry in the end.

And now I'm going back to work.

Safehold How are the various armies organized? (Asked Sat Sep 29, 2012) December 2013

Okay. What follows is not completely worked out in all details, but it should serve to give you a general idea.


Army of God organization:


An Army of God platoon consists of twenty-four men divided into two 12-man squads, each commanded by a sergeant, plus a lieutenant assisted by a platoon sergeant. Total manpower = 28: 24 enlisted, 3 noncommissioned, 1 commissioned.

An army of God company consists of four platoons, a captain as the company commander, a company sergeant, a standardbearer (colors sergeant), and a bugler (considered enlisted). Total manpower = 116: 97 enlisted, 14 noncommissioned, 5 commissioned.

An Army of God battalion — there are no Army of God battalions at this time.

An Army of God regiment consists of four companies, a colonel as CO, a major as his executive officer, a regimental sergeant; a surgeon (non-line commissioned) and 3 assistants (noncommissioned), a bugler, 4 runners/couriers, a regimental supply officer (non-line commissioned) and 3 noncommissioned assistants, and a standardbearer (color sergeant). Total manpower = 481: 393 enlisted, 64 noncommissioned, 24 commissioned.

An Army of God division consists of four regiments, a general, a colonel as his executive officer, a division sergeant major, a surgeon and assistant surgeon (both non-line commissioned) and 9 noncommissioned assistants, a division supply officer and assistant (both non-line commissioned) and 9 noncommissioned assistants, 2 divisional standardbearers (color sergeants), 8 runners/couriers, a bugler, and the divisional band (1 commissioned, 2 noncommissioned, 12 enlisted) which also acts as stretcher bearers. Total manpower = 1,975: 1,593 enlisted, 279 noncommissioned, 103 commissioned.

Because they are as yet inexperienced with rifles, the Army of God's planners have adopted basically the same approach the Corisandians did in their initial confrontation with the Charisians. Each company has two platoons of pikemen and two platoons of riflemen, so the entire division is half pikes and half rifles. Doctrine calls for a pike line to hold the cavalry at bay while the riflemen either fire over the pikemen's heads, form on the flanks, or skirmish.


An Army of God cavalry platoon consists of 12 enlisted, 2 sergeants, 1 lieutenant, and 1 bugler. Total manpower = 16: 13 enlisted, 2 noncoms, 1 commissioned.

An Army of God cavalry company consists of 4 cavalry platoons, 1 company sergeant, 1 captain, 2 buglers, and 3 couriers. Total manpower = 71: 57 enlisted, 9 noncoms, 5 officers.

An Army of God cavalry regiment consists of four cavalry companies, one company sergeant, one standardbearer (color sergeant), 2 buglers, 1 colonel, 1 major (as XO), one regimental sergeant (non-line commissioned) 6 assistant surgeons, 1 regimental farrier (non-line commissioned) and 12 assistants, 6 couriers, and the regimental band (1 non-line commissioned, 1 sergeant, 6 enlisted). Total manpower = 324: 260 enlisted, 39 noncommissioned, 25 officers.

There are no formal Army of God cavalry formations larger than regiments. Army of God cavalry regiments are still thought of as pure shock formations, equipped with lances and swords, but each trooper has now also been equipped with a pair of pistols. In order to save time (and money) these are smoothbore pistols on the assumption that they're going to be inaccurate fired from horseback anyway and that they will be used at very short range. They do give Army of God cavalry a limited fire capability.


Army of God is organized into artillery regiments, each consisting of four batteries of six guns each, roughly 12-pounders.

An Army of God artillery section consists of two guns, each with a crew of 11 — 1 sergeant and 10 enlisted, commanded by a lieutenant with a sergeant to assist him. Total manpower = 26: 22 enlisted, 3 noncommissioned, and 1 officer.

An Army of God artillery battery consists of 3 sections commanded by a captain, with one commissioned supply officer attached, a sergeant, and 4 runners/couriers. Total manpower = 79: 70 enlisted, 4 noncommissioned, and 5 commissioned.

An Army of God artillery regiment consists of four batteries, commanded by a major, with a lieutenant as his XO, a commissioned supply officer, a battery sergeant major, and 6 runners/couriers.

He has attached to his battery a maintenance officer (usually a captain or a major), with 3 sergeants and 30 enlisted, who also drive the four repair wagons and portable forge (six horses or one dragon, each) and are responsible for repairs and maintenance the gun crews themselves can't provide. Total manpower = 35: 30 enlisted, 3 noncommissioned, 2 officers.

Each artillery regiment also has an attached surgeon and assistant surgeon (both noncommissioned line) and 8 assistants. Total manpower = 10: 8 enlisted, 2 commissioned.

In addition, each gun has a limber (6 horses or one dragon) and each section has a caisson/ammunition wagon (6 horses or one dragon). The limber crew consists of a sergeant (the driver) and 3 assistants (who normally ride horses or the draft dragon). Total manpower (per regiment) = 96: 72 enlisted, 24 noncommissioned.

The ammunition wagon is driven by a "civilian" crew provided by the Church, which consists of five men per wagon.) Total manpower (per regiment) = 60.

So an Army of God artillery regiment, with supports, consists of:
24 12-pounders,
24 limbers, and
12 ammunition wagons
527 men: 472 enlisted, 54 commissioned, 46 commissioned.
36 horses or equivalent in dragons.


The Royal Dohlaran Army's Organization


An infantry platoon consists of two sections (not called squads) of sixteen men, each commanded by a corporal, a platoon sergeant, a standardbearer (color sergeant), and a lieutenant. Total manpower = 37 men: 32 enlisted, 4 noncommissioned, and 1 officer.

An infantry company consists of six infantry platoons commanded by a major, with a captain as his XO. He is assisted by a company sergeant, a standardbearer (color sergeant), a bugler, and 2 noncommissioned clerks assigned to the color party in battle. Total manpower: 229: 192 enlisted, 29 noncommissioned, and 8 officers.

An infantry regiment consists of six infantry companies commanded by a colonel with a major as his XO. He is assisted by a regimental sergeant, a standardbearer (color sergeant), a bugler, and 6 noncommissioned clerks assigned to the color party in battle. Also attached to the regiment is the regimental surgeon, with 3 assistant surgeons and 12 noncommissioned assistants. Total manpower: 1,398: 198 noncommissioned, and 53 officers.

The infantry regiment is the primary maneuver unit of the Royal Dohlaran Army. Divisions are primarily administrative rather than maneuver formations, and a divisional commander usually is the senior regimental commander of the division. Normally, two infantry regiments are grouped together into a division; the Royal Dohlaran Army is not organized on a brigade system. One company in each regiment is equipped as pikemen. In the majority of infantry regiments, 3 companies are armed with rifles and 2 companies are armed with muskets. Rifles remain in short supply (as of the beginning of the 896 campaign), however, and approximately 1 third of all regiments have 2 companies of rifles and 3 companies of muskets, in some few cases still matchlocks. The Royal Dohlaran Army has not been equipped with grenades.

Note: clerks attached to color parties are also utilized as couriers/runners.


The Royal Dohlaran Army is "infantry heavy" by the standards of most mainland armies outside the Republic of Siddarmark. Approximately 1/2 of its pre-Jihad manpower is organized into cavalry units, in which the nobility is heavily represented. Dohlaran cavalry is organized primarily for shock combat, although approximately 1/4 of all Dohlaran cavalry units are medium cavalry, or dragoons, armed primarily with arbalests or horse bows with sabers as their primary melee weapon. Dohlar has as yet made no effort to produce cavalry carbines or rifles, but the majority of their heavy cavalry is equipped (largely out of its own resources) with a pair of horse pistols, many of which are double-barreled, virtually none of which are rifled.

A cavalry platoon consists of 3 sections, each of 10 troopers commanded by a corporal, a platoon sergeant, a standardbearer (color sergeant), and a lieutenant. Total manpower = 36: 30 enlisted, 5 noncommissioned, and 1 officer.

A cavalry company consists of 4 sections, commanded by a major with a captain as his XO. He is assisted by a company sergeant, a standardbearer, 2 buglers, and 4 noncommissioned clerks (attached to the color party). Total manpower = 154: 120 enlisted, 28 noncommissioned, and 6 officers.

A cavalry regiment consists of 4 companies, commanded by a colonel with a major as his XO. He is assisted by a regimental sergeant, 2 regimental standardbearers (color sergeants), two buglers, and 8 noncommissioned clerks (attached to the color party). Also attached to the regiment is the regimental surgeon, with 3 assistant surgeons and 12 noncommissioned assistants. Total manpower = 646: 480 enlisted, 137 noncommissioned, and 29 officers.

As with infantry, there are no permanent Dohlaran cavalry divisions. Cavalry regiments are organized into "pure" dragoon or heavy cavalry. Two companies in each heavy cavalry regiment are lancers; the other two are saber-armed.

Dohlaran cavalry regiments do not have permanently assigned farriers. This is dealt with at the army/corps level (although the concept of a "corps" is not yet part of Dohlaran thinking on anything except an administrative level).


The Dohlaran artillery is organized on the same pattern as the Army of God's artillery, but the Dohlarans have deployed 6-pounder pieces with their cavalry units. These guns are not equipped with exploding shells. They have the same number of horses (dragons are not used for the horse artillery) as the infantry's 12-pounders, in order to provide them with the ability to keep up with the cavalry in the field.

In addition, at the instigation of the Earl of Thirsk (and despite a certain amount of spinal reflex opposition from his superiors), the RDA is in the process of fielding a 6-inch and a 4-inch howitzer (actually more like a mortar, given the shortness of the barrel). The 6-inch weapon is organized as the 12-pounder batteries, while the 4-inch weapon is the horse artillery equivalent.

Artillery is not permanently attached at the regimental level but assigned from the central army reserve as is deemed necessary.


The Imperial Desnairian Army


The Imperial Desnairian Army is traditionally heavily biased towards its cavalry. Infantry has always been more or less an afterthought, which has been compensated for to some extent by the Desnairian cavalry's willingness to fight dismounted. The infantry units described below are new for the IDA and have not (pre-896) been tested in combat.

An infantry company consists of 5 platoons, each of 25 enlisted men, commanded by a lieutenant assisted by a company sergeant, 4 corporals, a standardbearer (color sergeant), 2 noncommissioned company clerks, and a bugler. Total manpower = 135: 125 enlisted, 9 noncommissioned, 1 officer.

An infantry regiment consists of 5 infantry companies, commanded by a major with a captain as his XO, assisted by a regimental sergeant major, 5 regimental sergeants, 1 standardbearer, 4 noncommissioned company clerks, and 2 buglers. Total manpower = 690: 625 enlisted, 58 noncommissioned, and 7 officers.

As in the Royal Dohlaran Army, the infantry regiment is the primary maneuver element. Only about half of the IDA's infantry is equipped with firearms, but the remaining pikemen have been transitioned to arbalests, so there are no pure melee infantry units in the IDA. About 1/3 of all Desnairian infantry firearms are still matchlock muskets; the remaining firearms are all "modern" muzzleloading rifles with socket bayonets, and similar bayonets have been manufactured for the matchlocks.

All medical services in the IDA are centralized at the army/corps level. Sick and wounded are expected to get themselves back to central aid posts or, in encampments, are visited in rotation by healers from headquarters.


Traditionally, the cavalry have been the elite arm of the IDA. This is one reason the Church created the Grand Duchy of Silkiah, because otherwise Siddarmark's pikemen would have kicked the Desnairians' butt.

Desnairian cavalry are either heavy, medium, and light. All are organized on the same pattern, but the heavy cavalry is armored in half-plate and armed with classic shield and lance. Medium cavalry wears chain with a smaller shield normally slung across the trooper's back to free his hands for a composite horse bow. One third of the cavalry in any medium cavalry regiment is not armed with a bow, however, and carries a lance instead. The light cavalry wears leather buff, a light breastplate, and a helmet. They are armed with composite horse bows, swords, and around a quarter of them may carry small shields slung across their backs, as well. There are no light Desnairian lancers.

A cavalry company consists of 10 sections, each of 5 enlisted men and headed by a corporal, and is commanded by a captain, with a lieutenant as his XO, and assisted by a company sergeant, a standardbearer (color sergeant), 2 buglers, and 3 noncommissioned clerks (who join the color party in combat). Total manpower = 69 men: 50 enlisted, 17 noncommissioned, and 2 officers.

A cavalry regiment consists of 10 cavalry companies, commanded by a colonel with a major as his XO, assisted by a regimental sergeant major, 2 regimental sergeants, 2 standardbearers, 2 buglers, and 6 noncommissioned clerks (who join the color party in combat). Total manpower = 705: 500 enlisted, 183 noncommissioned, and 22 officers.

There are no permanent cavalry formations larger than a regiment, although the IDA does occasionally brigade 2 regiments together, at which time the senior colonel commands the brigade. Multiple brigades may be combined tactically under a single officer's command, but there is no provision for this on a permanent basis.

Although the IDA's medical support is concentrated at the army/corps level, it is not unusual for special mounted medical detachments to be assigned to cavalry forces sent on independent missions.

Desnairian cavalry units are supported by centralized farriers and veterinarians, but each regiment will normally have one officer and two or three noncommissioned clerks who are designated as being in charge of the regiment's mounting.


The Desnairian artillery is organized on much the same basis as that of the Army of God and the Royal Dohlaran Army. However, the Desnairians, with their greater number of cavalry, have adopted an even higher percentage of horse artillery than the Dohlarans. This represents, in part, a failure on their part to fully appreciate what the range and accuracy of rifles mean for light, smoothbore artillery. It also does represent an appreciation of the mobility of light guns, however, and they have actually tinkered up a 9-pounder heavy horse gun which is capable of firing a (very light) explosive shell.

The Desnairians have shown no interest in howitzers at this time.


Imperial Charisian Army

The Imperial Charisian Army, having possessed rifles and artillery longer than anyone else, having the first breech-loading rifle in production, and having the advantage of advice from Merlin and Owl, has adopted a doctrine and an organization radically different from that of its opponents. Recognizing that rifle-armed lines which stand in the open and blaze away at one another aren't going to lead primarily to mutual slaughter, they have embraced the concept of skirmishers and open-order combat, which places a far higher premium on the abilities of junior officers and noncoms, since senior officers cannot control such dispersed forces.

An infantry platoon consists of 4 squads, each consisting of 12 enlisted and 1 corporal, commanded by a lieutenant assisted by a platoon sergeant and 3 lance corporals to serve as runners and clerks. Total manpower = 57 men: 48 enlisted, 8 noncommissioned, and 1 officer.

An infantry company consists of 4 platoons and is commanded by a captain, assisted by a company sergeant, a company color sergeant (who may or may not actually carry a standard in the field), and five lance corporals to serve as runners and clerks. In addition, each company is assigned 1 surgeon with 4 assistants (enlisted). Total manpower = 241: 196 enlisted, 39 noncommissioned, and 6 officers.

Each platoon lieutenant in the company is assigned a staff function under the system adopted by Duke Eastshare and Baron Green Valley.

An infantry support platoon consists of 4 squads of mortars of 3 mortars each. Each mortar has a crew of 6 (mortar captain, loader, spotter, and three assistant gunners/loaders) commanded by a corporal (serves as gun captain), and each squad is commanded by a sergeant. The platoon is commanded by a lieutenant, assisted by a platoon sergeant. Total manpower = 74: 60 enlisted, 13 noncommissioned, 1 officer.

An infantry battalion consists of 4 infantry companies and one attached infantry support platoon, and is commanded by a major, with a captain as his XO/adjutant, assisted by a battalion sergeant major, a battalion color sergeant (who may or may not actually carry a standard in the field), and 10 lance corporals to serve as runners and clerks. In addition, each battalion is assigned 1 surgeon, 3 assistant surgeons, and 12 enlisted surgeon's assistants. Total manpower = 1,071: 856 enlisted, 181 noncommissioned, and 31 officers.

An infantry regiment consists of four infantry battalions and is commanded by a colonel, with a major as his XO/adjutant. He has an additional surgeon and 3 assistant surgeons, and an additional 12 enlisted surgeon's assistants. He is assisted by a regimental sergeant major, a regimental color sergeant (who may or may not actually carry a standard in the field), and 10 lance corporals to serve as runners/clerks. Total manpower = 4,314: 3,436 enlisted, 748 noncommissioned, 130 officers.

An infantry brigade consists of two infantry regiments and is commanded by a brigadier with a colonel as his XO/adjutant. He is assigned a formal staff of 5 captains and/or lieutenants. The brigade surgeon has 3 assistant surgeons and 12 enlisted surgeon's assistants. The brigade noncommissioned staff consists of a brigade sergeant major, a brigade color sergeant, and 10 lance corporals to serve as runners/clerks. Total manpower = 8,662: 6,884 enlisted, 1,508 noncommissioned, and 270 officers.

An infantry division consists of two infantry brigades commanded by a general with a colonel as his executive officer/adjutant and 5 captains or majors as staff. The brigade surgical group and noncommissioned staff repeat at the divisional level. Total manpower = 17,358: 13,780 enlisted, 3,028, and 550 officers.

In addition, each brigade has its own permanently assigned, integral artillery battalion (see below).


The Imperial Charisian Army’s cavalry is organized tactically as the infantry into platoons, companies, battalions, and regiments. Cavalry brigades are primarily administrative units, although an entire brigade can be assembled at need. There are currently (896) no Charisian cavalry divisions, however. Note that cavalry battalions have integral mortar companies, just as infantry, with the tubes and ammunition packed on horse and/or mule back.

All Charisian cavalry are armed with sabers in addition to rifles and bayonets. In addition, one platoon in each company (i.e., 1/4 of all cavalry in a formation) is also armed with a lance. Charisian cavalry are also armed with 2 twin barreled, rifled pistols at this time (896). Revolvers will be issued as they become available.

A Charisian cavalry bridage is normally permanently assigned a battalion of horse-drawn field guns.


Charisian field artillery is divided into field guns and "angle guns" (or howitzers). The field guns are all (896) either 12-pounder Napoleon smoothbores or 4" muzzleloading rifles. The angle guns are 6" weapons and all of them are rifled muzzleloaders.

An artillery section consists of 2 guns, regardless of type. Each gun is crewed by 12 men commanded by a sergeant. An additional sergeant commands the section. So an artillery section consists of 27 men: 24 enlisted and 3 noncommissioned.

An artillery battery consists of 4 sections, regardless of type. It is commanded by a captain, assisted by two lieutenants, a battery sergeant major, and 4 lance corporals to serve as runners/clerks. So an artillery battery consists of 116 men: 96 enlisted, 17 noncommissioned, and 3 officers.

An artillery battalion consists of four batteries, regardless of type. It is commanded by a major, assisted by two lieutenants or captains, a battery sergeant major, and 8 lance corporals to serve as runners/clerks. So an artillery battalion consists of 476 men: 384 enlisted, 77 noncommissioned, and 15 officers.

An artillery regiment consists of four artillery battalions, regardless of type. It is commanded by a colonel, assisted by two captains, a regimental sergeant major, and 12 lance corporals to serve as runners/clerks. So an artillery regiment consists of 1,920 men: 1,536 enlisted, 321 noncommissioned, and 63 officers.

Charisian artillery is not normally organized into higher formations than this, which, after all, would amount to 64 pieces. An artillery regiment may consist of mixed types, field guns and angle guns, but strenuous efforts are made to avoid mixing smoothbores and rifles.

Charisian artillery has no organic medical support; it depends upon the infantry and/or cavalry with which it is deployed.

Charisian artillery does not use separate limber and caisson drivers and gunners; the gun crew is responsible for the caisson and the gun itself and each gun details one man to assist with driving the artillery wagons. Charisian draft is provided by dragons for guns assigned to the infantry and by teams of horses and/or mules for those assigned to the cavalry. Horse artillery uses 8-horse teams for guns and ammunition wagons; foot artillery normally uses one dragon per gun and one dragon per ammunition wagon.

The ICA's mortar is a 3" weapon. It has the following specifications:

Caliber in inches 3.0
Projectile weight in pounds 10.0
Bursting charge HE 2.0
Bursting charge AP 1.0
Barrel length in feet 4.0
Barrel weight in pounds 65.0
Baseplate weight in pounds 115.5
Bipod weight in pounds 27.5
Elevation unit weight in lbs. 26.0
Total weight of piece in lbs. 234.0

Muzzle velocity in ft/sec 650.0
Minimum range in yards 300.0
Maximum range in yards 2,500.0
Lethal radius in feet HE 30.0
Lethal radius in feet AP 50.0

It is a rifled weapon, with studs engaging in rifling. The end of the projectile terminates in a short rod into which a percussion cap is inserted and around which the propelling charge, a circular cloth "donut" of gunpowder, is wrapped. The round is indexed into the rifling and dropped down the tube, at which point the firing pin on the base of the rod detonates the percussion cap which, in turn, fires the propelling charge.

The HE round is fitted with an impact fuse and its case sides are thinner than those of a conventional shell because of its lower muzzle velocity, which allows its charge to be proportionately heavier, coming close to the effectiveness of a 4" smoothbore shell's. The antipersonnel round is a shrapnel round with a timed fuse. It normally takes at least a couple of rounds to judge fuse settings properly, and they are not completely reliable. As an antipersonnel weapon, however, the shrapnel round is superior to the HE round because the black powder charge tends to shatter the case into very lethal but relatively few fragments.


Republic of Siddarmark Army

A Siddarmarkian regiment, pre-Sword of Schueler, consisted of 1,800 pikemen and 450 light infantry for a total of 2,2500 men.

The pikes are divided into 4 companies (considered battalions by anyone else) consisting of 15 sections of 30 men each. Fourteen of the sections are formed into 7 60-man companies; the 15th section is the company HQ section under the direct command of the company commander. In battle formation, each full platoon forms a double line with one section in each. Since each man requires twice the depth that he does width in formation, 15 sections formed directly behind one another would make a formation 30 men across and 15 men deep, which would be 30 yards square.

A Siddarmarkian regiment forms for battle with two of its pike companies abreast and the other two formed directly behind it, producing a formation which is 60 men across and 30 men deep, or a square 60 yards on a side.

During an approach march, a regiment's light infantry (arbalesteers or musketeers) areformed into 5 lines, each 3 sections (90 men) wide, which overlaps the front of the pikes square by fifty percent, in order to screen the pikes against enemy missile fire. They can also be pulled back into the intervals between the squares and once the squares advance into melee, they fall back to clear the field. The light infantry are armed with swords in addition to their missile weapons.

Siddarmarkian cavalry is less numerous and less heavily armored than, say, Desnairian cavalry, but is armed with a lance and a sword. About 20% of all Siddarmarkian cavalry is equipped with a horse bow, rather than a lance.

Siddarmarkian couriers attached to HQs wear red brassards to indicate their assignments (and prevent them from being stopped if it looks like they might be running for the rear when they’re actually delivering a message).

Safehold Wouldn't the design of the Mahndrayn rfile lead to more accidents? (Asked Mon Sep 24, 2012) December 2013

While I am primarily a shooter of smokeless powder, I have fired black powder — a lot — during my years upon this mortal coil (I’ve been a shooter for almost 50 years, come October), and I’m well aware of the ember problem. I’m also aware of the fouling problem and the fact that black powder is simply one hell of a lot less stable than more modern propellants.

Mahndrayan discusses the need to stiffen the cartridge to give it the strength needed to push the felt wad out of the way. And I think you are over estimating the combustibility of the paper “case” he’s developed. The basic breech sealing system used is essentially that of the Calisher and Terry Carbine of 1860, where it worked quite well. IIRC, the system was tested by the Brits aboard one of their warships and fired something over 1,500 rounds without failures or prematures. Combustion for the C&T was at the midpoint of the cartridge, not the rear (which is also the case for Mahndrayn’s design), and (again if I recall correctly without consulting my notes, which are on a different computer as I write), the C&T used an interrupted screw to close the breech, rather than camming and locking lugs.

The Mahndrayan uses two really big and massive front-locking lugs that engage in machined grooves which are (frankly) the biggest cost (in both time and money) of making the weapon and also sets up against a locking ledge at the rear of the receiver (see below). These costs are a big part of the reason the Charisians don’t have more of the things when the war brreaks out in the Republic and why the quantities they can manufacture between November 895 and July 896 are not a lot higher. It’s also a huge reason (in response to a point which was raised some months ago) they hadn’t manufactured scads of these things and kept them in storage on the offchance that someday they would need to equip a standing army much larger than the one they intended to field. A Mahndrayan costs damned near ten times what a muzzleloader costs, even in Charis, and the tolerances involved are quite demanding . . . which is the real reason only Howsmyn has the tooling and capacity to build the things right now. (And that’s not exactly an accident from Merlin’s perspective, either.)

I never attempted to imply that this was a perfect design — only that it worked and that it had been devised by Mahndrayn, a Charisian from outside the Circle, and that its tactical advantages were sufficient that the Imperial Charisian Army (and a certain couple named Cayleb and Sharleyan) felt it was well worth the costs involved in putting it into service.

Also, some people still seem to be misunderstanding the track the breech block follows in closing. This may be my fault for not describing it adequately, but it also emphasizes the problems inherent in an author sharing too much information with his readers: they fasten on specific detalis, which they may or may not have understood correctly, to decide (a) whether or not the design is workable and (b) whether or not the characters in the novel are smart enough to avoid obvious defects as they test the concepts.

The two biggest drawbacks of the Mahndrayn are that it requires a lot of machining time and operations and that the breech closure has to be over-engineered to stand the strains. In many ways, Merlinwould have preferred something more like the rolling block action, but that wasn’t what Mahndrayn came up with and he (Merlin) went with it both to encourage Mahndrayn and his like to come up with their own ideas and also, frankly, because he didn’t see the Sword of Schueler coming that far in advance any more than anyone else did. He was concerned with giving the Charisians a breechloading capability and, to be honest, he got bitten on the butt a bit by his own cleverness. One of the things which appealed to him was the complexity of the design, because the Mahndrayn’s basic design is beyond mainland manufacturing capacity. He figured Charis would eventually lose some of the weapons in action and he wanted something which would lie within the bounds of what Howsmyn could manage but the Church’s gunsmiths would be unable to produce in quantity. The interrupted-screw design is available to him as a fall back (now that the Charisian artillerists are playing with the concept, and so are several others I can think of right off hand) if it turns out Charis needs a lot more non-cartridge designs for some reason, but the Mahndrayn worked and had the advantage of being impossible for the Church’s artisans to duplicate in quantity.

The actual breechblock is contained in a solid housing in the locked up position. It is about an inch and a half long, and it moves on an angled path, dropping down and then moving to the rear along an angled trajectory. When the activating lever is in the locked position, the breech block is anchored at the front by rotating lugs and the rear rests against a solid steel housing at the rear of the receiver that is essentially an extension of the barrel. It literally cannot move to the rear until the cocking lever drops it a fraction of an inch on the angled track, but it is neither a classic vertically dropping falling block nor the semi-circular block of the rolling block, since it doesn’t rotate on a central pin. The felt wad at the base of the cartridge is heavily lubricated, which keeps the end of the barrel lubed (and has the same effect on the bullet) and also helps to extinguish any lingering sparks when the new round is inserted and pushes the remnant of the old wad in front of it (this is an important part of the design, people). Assuming sufficiently good grades of steel (and Howsmyn’s current steels are very good), this action could stand up to the recoil of a nitro express elephant gun, as long as the breech is safelt sealed, which is what the cartridge design is for.

As I say, it was never intended to be a perfect design. You guys need to bear in mind — more than I think some of you do, honestly — that just because what Charis has come up with hugely outclasses what the opposition has, and just because it may seem remarkable against the tech standards of what I think a lot of you continue to think of as a medieval society, it must be the best possible solution to the problem within the constraints of the available manufacturing capabilities of Safehold. That is deliberately not necessarily the case, just as the Royal Manticoran Navy doesn’t necessarily come up with the optimum design for a new ship type, despite all of its testing and modeling. Both Charis and Manticore tend to get the essentials right, and both of them are fiercely innovative, but that doesn’t mean they get [ieverything[/i] right . . . or that the other side can’t also surprise them from time to time.

Safehold What were the Siddarmark Generals thinking, trying to engage in melee combat against a rifle armed foe? (Asked Thu Sep 20, 2012) December 2013

First, in response to "I just think it was almost criminally inept how they allowed many of those soldiers to be slaughtered because they didnt realise how suicidal it was to try and fight a melee against a rifle armed foe," they never "allowed" any of their soldiers to be slaughtered against a "rifle armed foe" until after the Army of God and the Royal Dohlaran Army had invaded the Republic. Even then, the “melees” they fought were fought because the troops involved didn't have any other option. Aside from the Army's initial losses to the mutinies involved with the original Sword of Schueler uprising, the Siddarmarkian Army kicked ass any time it engaged the enemy on anything remotely like equal numbers until the actual invasion armies were able to come forward. The melees that resulted in the slaughter of Siddarmarkian troops occurred only after the enemy had crossed the frontier, with armies with radically new and different organizations and weapons mixes, and — in the case of Cliff Peak Province — in enormous strength from an unexpected direction. Aside from critical choke points (usually fortified) the Republican Army didn't try to stand its ground against those forces. Instead, it gave ground, retreating in front of them or attempting to do so. As an example, when the senior Siddarmarkian general in Cliff Peak realized what was coming at him, he correctly deduced that he could neither hold his position nor fight his enemy in the open. So he ordered his troops to fall back immediately; he simply couldn't fall back fast enough to break contact, and once his command was brought to action every man in it knew what was going to happen to him if he surrendered. With no choice but to fight to the death, he and his men did, but they certainly didn't choose the time or place and they knew going in that they couldn't win. Or you might look at what the commander of Alyksberg did when he realized that the Dohlarans were coming at him from the west by the Army of God was coming down from the north. He left a sacrificial rearguard to hold the fortress as long as possible while he got as many as possible of the rest of his men out.

It is incorrect to say that (1) the Siddarmarkian Army had "several thousand" rifles with which to experiment or (2) to conclude that they had or should have had detailed reports about what had happened in Corisande.

To take the second point first. You think there were Siddarmarkian Army observers in Corisande? You think that communications on Safehold are as rapid and have as much bandwidth as communications on Earth? Even if there had been Siddarmarkian observers on the ground, how comprehensive and valuable could their observations have been? If they'd had observers embedded embedded with the Charisians, sharing the Charisian experience with complete input from Cayleb's officers, they might well have gathered the sort of information you seem to think they ought to have had. Of course, that would also have brought the Inquisition down on themselves two years earlier, longbefore they could have had any time to profit from the knowledge. But they didn’t have that sort of access. The best they could have done would have been to send agents into Corisande to collect information after the fact, which is a very different proposition. You think that reports compiled after the fighting, from the anecdotal accounts of people who (even if they’d been personally involved in the fighting) generally would have only an unclear understanding of exactly what had happened, are going to be so crystal clear that only a "criminally inept" general could (a) fail to realize that the combat paradigm which has obtained for centuries has suddenly been completely invalidated and,(b) not figure out how to fix it in a handful of months?

To address the first point from above. The number of rifles available to the entire Siddarmarkian Army was well under 6,000 as of November of 895. While that probably could be said to equate to "several thousand" that was the total production available to the Army at the time the Sword of Schueler struck. Those weapons had come in gradually, beginning only about six months prior to Clyntahn’s attack, produced in low volume and numbers for the Army in foundries which the Republic and the Lord Protector knew perfectly well were under observation by the Church . . . as were the shipments of weapons from them and what the Army was doing with those weapons once they had them. They came in gradually, in numbers that built only slowly to a useful total and had to be carefully accounted for, and the generals receiving them knew that the ranks of the Army were certainly riddled with agents of inquisition and Temple Loyalist spies. So precisely how were the "criminally inept" generals supposed to conduct field exercises to evaluate the new weapons' effectiveness or even begin to project new tactics for them in that maximum four or five-month window without pushing Clyntahn into doing precisely what he did even sooner? I can assure you that the generals in question were only too well aware of how the Inquisition and the Group of Four would have reacted had the Siddarmarkian Army not simply obtained the weapons the Church was determined to keep out of its hands in quantity but also begun experimenting with them and radically altering its tactical doctrine as a result. And they were also aware that if they could get through the autumn, they would have the winter months in which they could have done quite a lot of that evaluating and thinking while major invasion forces would have faced a logistical nightmare trying to advance against them. They ran out of time because Clyntahn got in quicker and with a far harder blow than Stohnar's own agents had believed was possible.

You also seem to feel that somehow Siddarmark should not only have properly extrapolated the new tactics based on reports out of Corisande but adopted them. How? Who is supposed to do the extrapolation, and once it's been accomplished, how are the conclusions of that extrapolation to be propagated to the Army at large when the only means of communication are semaphore, carrier wyvern, or mounted messenger? Who works out the new doctrine, the new manual of arms, the new formations, the new TO&E? How does he accomplish that without field exercises that will tell the Church exactly what he's up to and simply accelerate Clyntahn's plans for the Republic? Assuming he somehow manages to pull off that miraculous feat, how does he get the new manuals — and the handful of officers involved in his experiments — into the hands of garrison forces in South March Province or Cliff Peak? You do remember how long Kynt Clareyk worked at evolving new tactics for the Charisian Marines even with Merlin's direct input, don't you? To make the sort of change you're talking about on an institutional level in an organization as large as he Republican Army takes months or years, even with outside instructors available in large numbers. Where was Siddarmark supposed to get those outside instructors? From the Charisian Empire? I think the Inquisition might have had just a little to say about that, don’t you?

Moreover, it is — or ought to be — self-evident from the tactics that Siddarmarkian officers adopted in the field that they fully appreciated that the new weapons mix was, quite literally, revolutionary. They had only incomplete information and they’d never had the opportunity to experiment with the new weapons, yet they knew they were at a fatal disadvantage against new model armies. There just wasn't anything they could do about it . . . except die gallantly. These were men who, in their hundreds of thousands, had never seen new model artillery or even a flintlock smoothbore musket, yet they'd heard stories, they'd had reports, there’d been rumors, and the officer corps of the Siddarmarkian Army did its very best to choose its strategy and its tactics based on a comprehensive realization that they could not meet rifle-armed opponents in the open field and win.

You suggested that they should instead have evacuated their noncombatants from the frontiers, destroyed as much as possible of the communication and transportation system, and then (if I understood you correctly) either withdrawn from the frontiers completely and/or disbanded their standing forces, split up into partisan bands and raided the enemy's communications and logistics.

First, they did encourage the evacuation of everyone they had the capacity to evacuate. If you go back and look at the lead up to the one and only time in the book that you see pike-armed Siddarmarkians charging artillery — and only artillery, not rifles — in the book, their commander specifically reflects before he pulls out of his HQ fort that at least he'd been able to get as much of the population who remained loyal to the Republic out of his command area as possible. The one town they pass through on their way to the battle site is held entirely by Temple Loyalists. Millions of Siddarmarkian civilians had been moving steadily east since the Sword of Schueler's beginning attacks; transportation facilities were limited, especially because food was so scarce, and hundreds of thousands of those refugees died of starvation or exposure during the evacuation. There were — as there will always be, in similar situations — some civilians who were too stubborn or too foolish to refugee out when the going was good, but that is not because the Army didn't encourage them to do just that. The Army stayed behind to protect those who could not, or would not, get out; it didn't stay behind to encourage those civilians to stay in place and get killed.

You also apparently have an exaggerated opinion of how much destruction they could have done to the transport system in their area before they withdrew. How were they supposed to accomplish this when it was all they could do to protect loyal citizens of the Republic long enough for those citizens to flee and when destroying the transportation system would have prevented those citizens from fleeing? This is a primarily muscle-powered civilization. They had limited quantities of gunpowder. They couldn't afford to disperse their manpower into small forces. The canals are deep, wide, and made of stone and cement that will be very resistant to destruction with anything except large quantities of very strategically placed gunpowder. The high roads are much the same. They could probably burn wooden bridges, they could probably drop even stone bridges, although it's highly unlikely they could destroy the stone piers and arches which had supported those bridges (and which army engineers would use as the basis for new bridges within, say, 24 hours of reaching the rivers they crossed). They could smash pumping controls and pipes with sledgehammers, but guess what? The Sword of Schueler had already done most of that on Zhaspahr Clyntahn's orders. The only damage they had the resources to inflict would have been essentially superficial and repairable, and that damage had already been inflicted, which is the entire reason the invaders' forward movement into the Republic was delayed as long as it was.

If you were also suggesting (I'm not sure that you were, but that was my impression) that after getting the civilians out their frontier forces should have split up to operate in dispersed groups to sabotage logistics behind the advancing enemy, rather than simply in front of him, how might they have gone about that? This is an infantry army, with an extremely limited number of cavalry, who would be operating in hostile territory, where food and supplies are virtually nonexistent, against enemies with superior weapons who also happen to have the local civilian population on their side rather than the defenders' side. There were already militia forces operating in ambush mode in many places, but the effective sabotage of the canals would have required resources which neither those militia nor the Republican Army's regulars possessed. Light damage might have been inflicted, semaphore towers might have been burned, but the folks doing the light damage and burning the semaphore towers would rapidly have been hunted down by the cavalry with which the Army of God and the Dohlarans were well-equipped. As I pointed out above, without large quantities of explosives, the canals could not have been significantly damaged, even if that hadn't been specifically prohibited by the Holy Writ . . . which it was. You expect your bands of partisans to trundle wagonloads of gunpowder around with them when only strictly limited quantities of gunpowder were available anyway for an army which had never had field artillery and whose missile troops consisted of limited numbers of matchlock-armed musketeers and arbalesteers?

Finally, had any such strategy been adopted, it would have been futile for many reasons, the two most immediate of which would be the relative immobility of the foot bound saboteurs as opposed to the high mobility of their mounted pursuers, on the one hand, and the "scorched earth" retaliatory policy the Temple Loyalists would have enacted in response. Heck, they'd already effectively instituted a scorched earth policy before they ever invaded the Republic! Your partisans would have had precious little upon which to subsist; once the Army of God and its attached inquisitors figured out what was going on (which they would have done quite rapidly) they would have burned out everything that was left, moved out the people they figured were on their side, and slaughtered everyone they figured was on the other side. In short, the strategy wouldn't have worked but it would certainly have made things even worse for any non-Temple Loyalists in the region.

I'm not trying to argue that the Siddarmarkian generals performed feats of superhuman foresight and put together the very best strategy possible. It is highly inaccurate and unfair, however, to accuse them of criminal ineptitude when, in fact, they had quite a clear perception of the problem they faced and of the fact that without massive Charisian assistance they had neither the means nor the time to defeat it. The men you are describing as inept saw very clearly what they were up against yet had been systematically denied the opportunity to do anything about it by the Church and by the threat of the Inquisition in the couple of years leading up to the Sword of Schueler. As someone else has already pointed out, we're looking at literally centuries of advance in weapons capabilities from the model which had existed only two years prior to the Sword of Schueler. Corisande was defeated in late 893; Hektor was killed in September of that year. The Sword of Schueler was launched in November of 895, barely 2 Safeholdian years (21 months) later. That's 630 Safeholdian days, or about 690 Earth days. Apparently, to suit your definition of generals who aren't criminally inept, in that time, they had to get reports from Corisande (voyage time eating up about three of those months one way, please note), accurately determine what had happened from those reports, recognize how what had happened was going to impact/invalidate their existing tactical doctrine, devise new tactics, and get them promulgated sufficiently down the chain for frontier commanders (cut off in many cases from direct communications with hgigher authority, struggling to hold their commands together well enough to protect civilians in their areas of responsibility in the face of insurrection, mutiny, atrocities, and excommunication) to realize that they had no option but to do their best to destroy the Writ-protected transportation infrastructure and retreat. To be perfectly honest, the amazing thing is that they managed to accomplish so much of the things you seem to think they didn't manage to accomplish in the time frame available to them.

Please note that the Charisians on the ground are deeply impressed by the extent to which the Army of God and the Dohlarans, with a two-year head start on the Siddarmarkians, managed to integrate the new weapons and concepts into their doctrine. And even so, both Maigwair and the Dohlarans are the equivalent of decades (at the least) behind Charis . . . despite the last-minute integration of smoothbore field artillery with exploding shells courtesy of an Inquisition spy in Charis.

Safehold Could the war have been averted, or at least the scope and depth? (Asked Sun Sep 09, 2012) December 2013

If I may . . . .

Safehold is not Earth. The fact that people keep trying to find historical parallels for events and conditions on Safehold anyway sometimes distracts them from the overwhelming nature of the differences between our own history and that of Safehold.

The primary difference between the situation on Safehold and any situation that ever existed on Earth is that there genuinely is a worldwide faith, subordinated to a single church hierarchy, and accepted without question by virtually every living human being (other than those who had been corrupted by the Brethren of Saint Zherneau). The sheer breadth and depth of the Church of God Awaiting's authority is utterly without parallel in the history of Earth, where even the most extensive empire and/or theocratic state has had neighbors who didn't necessarily subscribe to the same belief system. It is literally impossible to over emphasize the consequences of that difference when it comes to evaluating diplomatic and political decisions in a Safeholdian context.

If the political situation on Safehold were remotely comparable to any political situation which has ever existed here on Earth, this argument that Cayleb should have played for time before declaring his open opposition to and defiance of the Church might — might — make sense. In a Safeholdian context, it almost certainly would have been suicidal.

There are many reasons I say that, beginning with — but certainly not limited to — the observation someone else has already made that under Safeholdian planetary law, Cayleb's accession to the throne had to be ratified by the Church, which was completely under the control (as everyone in Tellesberg knew) of the Group of Four. That confirmation was not going to be forthcoming, and anyone who had the remotest shred of an understanding of Zhaspahr Clyntahn and of the power of the Inquisition knew that. At best, the Group of Four would have immediately denied Cayleb's right to inherit his father's throne. It wouldn't have needed to provide a reason for that; such a denial would have been completely within the Church's prerogatives without the requirement for any secular justification.

The Group of Four could, however, have come up with any number of justifications if they had been needed. The fact that nothing Charis was doing had violated the Proscriptions — in the opinion of Paityr Wylsynn meant diddly in Zion, especially if the Grand Inquisitor himself chose to override the local Intendant's findings. Does anyone think for a moment that Clyntahn would not have chosen to do just that? Even if Clyntahn had not immediately overridden Wylsynn's attestation, he could very easily have announced that a review of the youthful Intendant's findings was in order, particularly given the fact that Charis had managed to devastatingly defeat the combined navies of five other nations. Surely it would have been reasonable for the Church to make certain that such a completely and totally unprecedented victory — and scale of victory — was not, in fact, due to some infringement of the Proscriptions which Shan-wei had managed to sneak past Father Paityr? After all, that would only be the path of caution.

Given that Clyntahn had the bit between his teeth, what would almost certainly have happened would have been what did happen, even without Cayleb and Staynair's open defiance. Had Trynair been allowed to call the shots, however, a rather more subtle — and probably even more dangerous — policy would probably have been pursued. Trynair would have played for time. Rather than rejecting Cayleb's right to inherit outright, he would have set up panels and committees to fully examine the circumstances . . . and he would have demanded a regency to oversee the Kingdom of Charis while everything was sorted out. (Echoes of the Hanth succession from Off Armageddon Reef, anyone?) And, of course, that Regency Council would have obediently followed Mother Church's instructions to stand down its active operations and military preparations against Hektor Corisande during the review process.

Cayleb would then have had only two choices:

(1) Immediately defy Trynair and reject the notion of a regency or a review of the circumstances, at which point his actions would be cast in a purely political view, demonstrating to the Group of Four's satisfaction (for the rest of Safehold) that Haarahld had, indeed, been the true instigator of the imperialist confrontation which had led to the war and that Cayleb, out of pure, unsullied, secular ambition, was defying Mother Church's efforts to heal the conflict which had already inflicted so many deaths upon Safehold and was willing to defy the Writ, the Archangels, and God Himself in the name of that secular ambition.

(2) Accede to Trynair's imposition of a regency and a review of the circumstances, accepting a regency council whose membership was acceptable to the Group of Four, at which point his life would not have been worth a plug nickel and the fate of Charis would have been sealed.

Even if Clyntahn hadn't immediately arranged Cayleb's arrest on some suitably serious religious charges as soon as the Regency Council was in place (or had him assassinated, probably by some "heretic" Charisian, thereby once again justifying Clyntahn's "Permanent Solution to the Charisian Problem"), Trynair would have strung the process out for months or even years, aided by the slow speed of communications (which would become even slower when it suited his purposes), during which the legitimacy not simply of Cayleb but of the entire Ahrmahk Dynasty would have been increasingly undermined in the eyes of the Charisian people. (And, of course, during that same time period, Prince Hektor and King Rahnyld, at the very least, would have been building their own fleets of galleons while Charis wasn't.) Moreover, one of the very first things that would have happened would have been that Maikel Staynair would have been removed as Bishop of Tellesberg and the entire Charisian church would have undergone a thorough housecleaning under the direction of Clyntahn's inquisitors. The very best result of that housecleaning (from a Charisian perspective), would have been that the Reformists would have been purged from the Church and that a degree of orthodoxy probably rivaled only by that of Harchong would have been imposed upon it and through it upon the Kingdom as a whole. A more probable result would have been that the Brethren of Saint Zherneau (possibly along with Jere Knowles’ journal) would have been discovered and destroyed and that Clyntahn would have gone ahead and burned Charis to the ground and sown the soil with salt to destroy the cancer once and for all.

From the perspective of Church preparations, the Church didn't get around to declaring Holy War until well after it had commenced its own massive naval buildup against Charis. There is absolutely no reason to believe for a moment that the Group of Four wouldn't have gone ahead and begun that naval buildup anyway, particularly given the fact that Charis had already flouted the Group of Four's collective will by surviving and that Charis could only continue to survive by eliminating its rivals among the Out Islands — Emerald, Corisande, Tarot, and (presumably) Chisholm. Whatever the rights or wrongs of the original confrontation, whether it was Haarahld's vaunting ambition which had led to the war or not, those four realms (plus Dohlar) were clearly Church allies/clients. The Church had to support and protect them against Charis, both because she had a perceived responsibility to do so and because the Group of Four could not allow an alliance it had created to be defeated by the single secular kingdom it had specifically set out to destroy in the first place. From the Group of Four's perspective, and especially from Clyntahn's perspective, that blow to the Church's prestige, power, authority, and perceived omnipotence would have been completely and totally unacceptable. It would, in effect, have created the very situation he'd proposed Charis's destruction to avoid. So pretending it was simply a war between secular powers would have done absolutely nothing to decrease, limit, or slow the Church's military preparations.

From Charis' perspective, on the other hand, there was no downside at all to Cayleb and Staynair's defiance.

First, bear in mind that they never bade defiance to Mother Church or the Archangels in their original communication to the Group of Four. They specifically accused the Group of Four of corruption, abuse of power, and the perversion of Mother Church. Their defiance of the Grand Vicar was predicated on the accusation that the Grand Vicar was the Group of Four's tool . . . and that situation existed only because of the Group of Four's progressive corruption and perversion of Mother Church. In other words, they were not defying God's plan for Safehold, nor were they rejecting the primacy of Mother Church; instead, they were accusing a specific clique within Mother Church of having connived at Charis' destruction without even first allowing Charis the opportunity due to all of God's children of defending herself against accusations of wrongdoing or seeking clarification of where and how she might have transgressed so that those transgressions could be correct.

From that perspective, Cayleb and Staynair were defending the Church against her internal enemies. They were not defying God; they were being answerable to God in coming to the defense of His Church against those who would have perverted it into something He had never intended it to be.

Second, by declaring their position so forthrightly, they avoided the delays and possible interregnum Trynair might have imposed and which would have absolutely prevented them from taking the steps necessary to fight their other purely secular enemies, far less preparing to defend themselves against the Church's fresh assaults.

Third, every informed political observer on the planet knew that, in fact, the Group of Four had been directly behind the attack on Charis. The "Knights of the Temple Lands" were a political fiction which the Church had used before, and everyone recognized that was what had happened this time, as well. Whatever the consequences might have been at the "grassroots level," the rulers of Safehold all knew who had been calling the shots in the attack on Charis. Bringing that out into the open made the choices clear for all of those other secular rulers . . . and outside Siddarmark, Chisholm, and Charis itself, the "grassroots level" didn't matter a hill of beans. By taking the position they took, Cayleb and Staynair deliberately stripped away any mask the Group of Four might even have attempted to hide behind as far as the important decision-makers of Safehold were concerned. Moreover, by making it a direct confrontation between Tellesberg and Zion, they underscored what Nahrmahn and Sharleyan, at the very least, had already clearly understood: once Clyntahn had destroyed a realm for irritating him, no ruler's crown would ever have been safe from him again. If you think that wasn't a factor in King Zhorj's thinking in Tarot, you are mistaken. (And if you think the realization that Chisholm would be next on Clyntahn's list wasn't a part of Sharleyan's calculations when she considered Cayleb's proposal, I suggest you go back and reread the books! [G])

Fourth, and most importantly of all, it united Charis behind Cayleb in a way nothing else could have. Bear in mind that he wouldn't have been confirmed in the crown at all by the Church under the Group of Four's control, and that he, Staynair, and Gray Hill all knew that as well as Merlin did. His choice was between being denied the crown, facing (and attempting — somehow — to survive) Trynair's delaying tactics, or openly defying the Group of Four. Since both of the first two possibilities would inevitably have led to his defeat and death, it was really a binary decision. But by embracing that decision, he presented himself as the champion of the Church and (although it wasn't harped upon at the time) freedom of conscience. In the end, of course, freedom of conscience and Mother Church's paramount authority over every living human being were fundamentally at odds, but that was not immediately apparent, since everything Staynair was saying emphasized the importance of God and an understanding of His will. The fact that he was already subtly dividing or at least distancing God from "His" Church was far from obvious. In fact, Cayleb's message emphasized the necessity of standing up for God against the corruption of evil and ambitious mortal men who had perverted everything the Church was supposed to stand for. That position, coming on the heels of King Haarahld's heroic death, the fact that virtually every Charisian understood that their kingdom would have been destroyed had the other side won, and the knowledge that the "Knights of the Temple Lands" had been behind the attack, forced Charisians to choose between becoming Temple Loyalists or Reformists in the church of Charis and firmly — one might say fiercely — united those Reformists behind Cayleb and Staynair. It was, for all intents and purposes, the exact opposite of the circumstances which would have obtained had Trynair's probable strategy been applied, complete with Regency Council and "delays" in confirming Cayleb as king.

As for the notion that the people of the Temple Lands "quarrel with each other just like any group, or groups of people in power" — oh, please! The "people" of the Temple Lands don't matter squat; the Knights of the Temple Lands matter. They are the rulers, they collect the taxes, they make the decisions, and they don't answer to anything remotely like a parliament. And who are the "Knights of the Temple Lands"? The Council of Vicars, that's who. You know — the people the Group of Four control and dominate? They are going to somehow "quarrel" with Zhaspahr Clyntahn at a time like this? And SWM is correct anyway; the Knights were simply the conduit for funds coming directly from the Church's treasury under the control of the Treasurer . . . who happens to be a member of the Group of Four and would have been covered, anyway, by the instructions the Grand Vicar would have given him, since the Grand Vicar was under control of the Chancellor, who also happens to be a member of the Group of Four. The degree to which the "Knights of the Temple Lands" could have inhibited the Church's cash-flow seems to me to be misunderstood by this argument, as well. The Knights didn't pay taxes or tithes, anyway. The best they could have done would have been to try to somehow prevent the Church tax gatherers from collecting the tithes their subjects paid directly to the Church. I'll let you calculate for yourself how likely they would have been to succeed in that with Clyntahn's Inquisition standing behind Duchairn's Treasury agents. No matter how ardent the Reformists might have been, all they would have achieved by attempting to hamper the Church's collections would have been to give Clyntahn the pretext he needed to move against the Wylsynns' Circle and other Reformists even sooner. Not that there would have been the most remote chance that the Reformists would have tried to impede the collection of tithes.

As far as comparing the threat of Charis to the threat of Siddarmark as a means to dissuade the Group of Four from whatever policy it chose to follow, this too is a nonstarter. Until after the events in A Mighty Fortress, there was never any thought on the part of the Group of Four that Charis might seriously threaten the mainland realms in any military sense. For that matter, the Group of Four's consensus even after the destruction of the Navy of God's fleet en route to Desnair was that Charis could not build both a navy sufficient to control the seas and provide for its own security and an army remotely large enough to threaten the mainland or the Temple directly. The Church could always build — or rebuild — a navy, no matter how expensive that might be or how many times it had to be done; Charis literally didn't have the manpower to build a mainland-sized army, and that was all there was to it.

Because of that, there is no way that the "threat" of a powerful Charisian fleet would have dissuaded the Church from pursuing any policy the Group of Four chose to pursue, and to think otherwise is to completely misunderstand the thinking and perceived military realities of Safehold. Indeed, one of Clyntahn's primary reasons for mounting the Sword of Schueler against Siddarmark was his belief — based primarily on his own, personal longtime suspicion of Siddarmark — that Siddarmark might move from "clandestine" economic cooperation with Charis to open military cooperation. By the time he took action, that suspicion of his had actually taken on a degree of legitimacy . . . but that was due solely to his own actions after Charis' open — and successful — defiance of his authority. Neither he nor any other member of the Group of Four (with the possible exception of Duchairn, who, if you will recall, was consistently outvoted on a three-to-one basis) would have allowed their calculations to be affected in any way by the military threat potential of Charis to their own or the Church's position on the mainland. It was the threat to the Church's (i.e., their own) authority in the Out Islands which had prompted the other three to agree with Clyntahn's "final solution" in the first place; absent a realistic land threat on the mainland (which, as I've just demonstrated, didn't exist in their minds at that time), they would — they could — only act even more strongly to prevent Charis from securing hegemony over all the Out Islands and thus strengthening the danger against which they had acted originally.

In short, there is no way that a delay on Cayleb and Staynair's part in proclaiming their defiance of the Group of Four — and setting forth morally, religiously, and spiritually compelling reasons for that defiance — could possibly have offered them anything like the advantages that accrued from an immediate declaration of war against the Group of Four and its corruption. It was not simply the correct thing for them to do from a moral and an ethical perspective, it was also the best thing they could have done from a pragmatic political, military, and economic perspective.

That's my analysis of the situation, at any rate. And while my natural modesty hesitates to point this out, I probably know more about the internal and external politics of the Church and Safehold's secular realms than anyone else. [G]