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All the idiots on the Arcanan side?

"Hell's Gate" and "Hell Hath No Fury", by David, Linda Evans, and Joelle Presby, take the clash of science and magic to a whole new dimension...join us in a friendly discussion of this engrossing series!
Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by Howard T. Map-addict   » Tue Jul 07, 2015 3:48 pm

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There is a Clue to this:
David Weber's wife's name is Sharon. :)

HTM

Karthak wrote:I'm just disappointed because I'm almost at the end of the first book, and all the asshattery so far has been Arcanan. When I picked up the series I thought it was going to be about two sides who were equally in the wrong, as it were. Instead we get one side making all the mistakes, and the other being practically saintly.

Also doesn't help that I find the Arcanan PoVs much more interesting than the Sharonian ones, especially with how the narrative keeps beating us on the head about how wonderful the Ternathian royal family is...(I'm not effing buying that every nation except the Uromathians would be so eager to surrender their sovereignity)
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by bkwormlisa   » Tue Jul 07, 2015 5:50 pm

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David Weber has said that we'll get a much better view of the Arcanan side and how they aren't all monsters in the third book. So far, we've really seen no Arcanans outside front line military except for the two diplomats.

I can totally see people acting the way the Arcanans have acted with very few of them being evil. The first clash, Garlath's cowardice, and Thalmayr's stupidity are all the kind of thing that happens in real life. Mul Gurthak using war as a political maneuver and Skirvon acting in his own best interest by supporting mul Gurthak (who appears to have bought Skirvon's assistance) are also possible, maybe plausible. And troops abusing prisoners when they're furious at something they think the other side has done certainly happens. Harshu was apparently ordered to attack, though he doesn't seem to have felt reservations about it. Given that he apparently has at least some honor and reasonableness, that was probably the least likely thing I saw about the Arcanan conduct.

But I was also disappointed that there was no Sharonian misconduct. The Sharonians are supposed to be just as mad about Shaylar's death as the Arcanans are about vos Halathyn's, yet they don't act that way. Not even one Sharonian hit any Arcanan as far as we know, even against orders (they weren't gentle when taking prisoners at Fort Salby, but nothing was said about abuse). That bothers me some, just like it does in the Safehold series. Chava and the Seneschal are certainly Sharonian bad guys, and we'll probably see more crimes out of them in the next two books, but I hope we'll also see common Sharonians suffering from human weaknesses and doing criminal acts in war. (An odd thing to hope for, I know, but it would make them more human and the story more realistic.)

And no, not all Sharonian rulers are happy to surrender their sovereignty. But Ternathia is very powerful and he has the support of several of the other powerful countries. Almost all of which seem to have once been part of the Ternathian Empire. And I suspect that their stating their Glimpses of war has frightened others. Enough to carry the ruling, anyway.

As for the Caliraths being too wonderful, David Weber is very fond of writing stories with a powerful family and/or monarchy that is strong-willed, highly ethical, and with a very strong sense of duty. Almost every series has one, and many of the stand-alones. The Caliraths are far from unusual, though they've certainly lasted longer than most. I wouldn't be in the least surprised to discover that Arcana has an equivalent, probably Jasak's father and many of the other Andarans.

The fact that the side ruled by said monarchy doesn't do anything really wrong is also not unusual for him. He's very good when writing about good guys on the "bad" side (I put it in quotes, because it's rarely true evil, usually just weakness and corruption), but not as strong (in my opinion) in writing about bad guys (I mean cruelties and evil acts by otherwise good people, not the few corrupt or venal people) on the "good" side. But I have yet to find an author that doesn't have some sort of pattern or areas where they aren't very good, and DW has a lot fewer of those than most, so I find his books an excellent read anyway.
Karthak wrote:I'm just disappointed because I'm almost at the end of the first book, and all the asshattery so far has been Arcanan. When I picked up the series I thought it was going to be about two sides who were equally in the wrong, as it were. Instead we get one side making all the mistakes, and the other being practically saintly.

Also doesn't help that I find the Arcanan PoVs much more interesting than the Sharonian ones, especially with how the narrative keeps beating us on the head about how wonderful the Ternathian royal family is...(I'm not effing buying that every nation except the Uromathians would be so eager to surrender their sovereignity)
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by Karthak   » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:00 pm

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Started with the second book. Getting mighty tired of Sharonians sneering down at Arcanans. Even more tired of the fact that they absolutely have the right to do so, so far.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by bkwormlisa   » Wed Jul 08, 2015 7:18 am

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Just so you know, the second book does show honorable Arcanans trying to mitigate the excesses of their superiors. It's not totally one-sided.
Karthak wrote:Started with the second book. Getting mighty tired of Sharonians sneering down at Arcanans. Even more tired of the fact that they absolutely have the right to do so, so far.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by PeterZ   » Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:35 am

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Karthak wrote:Started with the second book. Getting mighty tired of Sharonians sneering down at Arcanans. Even more tired of the fact that they absolutely have the right to do so, so far.


I am confused. I get recall anger from Sharonans but no sneering. The sneering was from the opposite direction. The Arcanan diplomats attitudes come to mind.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by PeterZ   » Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:52 am

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Regarding the impending Sharonan Empire. I am not sure just how much sovereignty the subject nations are giving up? If the principal power of the Empire is to rationalize the military, the subject nations may well retain legislative power. There might be some broad limits to local legislation that find near universal agreement. No slavery for example. Other than that the Empire arbitrated disputes and controls the military for mutual defense.

These sorts of limits are palatable for most nations if they trust the dynasty controlling the military. Hint not Chava.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by Mil-tech bard   » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:31 pm

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Regards this --

Karthak wrote:

I'm just disappointed because I'm almost at the end of the first book, and all the asshattery so far has been Arcanan. When I picked up the series I thought it was going to be about two sides who were equally in the wrong, as it were. Instead we get one side making all the mistakes, and the other being practically saintly.


We went around the whole "Cultural Mary-Sue" issue once before on this thread with a comment by RFC hizself --

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=2348&start=20


rakenan Sez --


Sharona is already close to a cultural Mary Sue. They have a dynasty of benevolent and competent monarchs that has lasted for thousands of years without degradation or reversion to norm. They have "bad guys" who are pathetically transparent and childish in their schemes and plots. They have an entire world where the gifted are revered and honored without an undercurrent of resentful jealousy poisoning relations with the common folk.

Frankly, having them invade and conquer Arcana would just put the nail on the coffin sinking this entire series below Out of the Dark in my list of David Weber books I regret reading...




Mil-Tech Bard Sez -

The "Cultural Mary Sue" here is the "Calirath Talent" and the incentives its brutal self-honesty provides for Sharonan rulers.

The Calirath Emperors are operating on a level of hard reality that will make non-talented politicians run away in terror.

The trickle down effect in terms of "mandate of heaven" with everyone on Sharona and Sharonan's spun off universes cannot be overestimated.

Quite literally voices send real images, emotions and all sorts of sub-channel communications about the Calirath Emperors direct to other voices or those with projective talents to send to non-talents.

Sharonans get to know their leaders in ways we cannot imagine, and create loyalties so deep that average Sharonan soldiers will fight at the word of a Calirath Emperor the way that the Imperial Japanese serviceman did in WW2...and the Calirath talent means Emperors only ask it of their troops when absolutely necessary.

This sort of thing will move talented Sharonan leaders much as it does Sharonan troops.

Which, once you work through the full cultural implications of the "Calirath Talent", Chava of Uromathia being a non-talent is central to the storyline.



RFC Sez --

I will say only that the in-universe "everyone knows" reasons for the Caliraths' withdrawal from Tajvana (and the downsizing of their empire) are . . . less than fully correct.

And that the Caliraths wanted it that way from the beginning.

As to why, now . . . . :twisted:




Mil-Tech Bard Sez -

RFC pretty much laid out my answer.

In short, you don't know the Calirath Talent as well as you think you do.

It would have been very easy for the Calirath Emperors to have set up a god-cult around themselves as most aristocracies have through out history have.

They didn't.

And they had a lot more reason to do so.

That continuing action, and the withdrawal Ternathian Empire, stem from the same set of Calirath Emperor calculations of "political economy".

It is far easier to wield real power when it is willingly and lovingly given to you than when it is taken.

The gradual withdrawal of the Ternathian Empire then meant they were going to get it all later, willingly.

In short, precontrives play the political long game better than anyone else.



Peter Z Sez --


Is political power the end goal for the Caliraths or simply a means to whatever end they seek? I am not sure political power is the goal.

Your analysis of the interpersonal dynamics of the talents seems right on to me, Mil-tech bard. Let's take that one step further. Not only do Voices share a much deeper appreciation of their rulers with the populace, the talents force the rulers to appreciate their subjects on a much deeper level. The Caliraths then are motivated by that appreciation.

How can they not be? Any action of theirs has both immediate consequences that their talent's sensitivity to others make them aware of as well as longer term consequences their precog abilities reveal. Given how the Emperor was blindsided by the vote to make him the Emperor of Sharona, political power is not the principal driver of the Caliraths. I truly think the ability to share points of view inherent in the talents emphasizes the sense of being responsible for and to one another in Sharonans. That goes for the Emperor as well as his subjects.



Mil-Tech Bard Sez --

Peter Z.

Fear of failure is a much stronger motivation for humans than the desire for success, and the Calirath talent hammers it's human hosts with that "price of failure" every damned day.

Whatever their motivations and final goals, the Calirath emperors are walking the paths of power.

Seeking power to make the world a better place -- for fear of the price of failure that Calirath Glimpses provide if you do not -- is still seeking power.

RFC hit on a real enthralling, realistically, human story line about the implications of such a talent.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by Karthak   » Wed Jul 08, 2015 3:53 pm

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There may be perfectly logical reasons for the Caliraths being so saintly, but that doesn't stop it from being aggravating.

Reached the end of the second book, and all atrocities are still Arcanan-exclusive. I hope this changes in the third book. Both sides are morally outraged at the other, but only one side (the side I find more boring, to boot) has legitimate justifications for the outrage. I also hope we see a lot more of Arcana in the third book; we've been practically drowned in coverage of the Sharonan leadership, but just about nothing from the Arcanan side.

I'm not complaining so much because I hate the series; to the contrary I devoured both books in just a few days, and loved a lot of it. It's just that that makes the parts that stick in my craw even more irritating. :D
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by Castenea   » Wed Jul 08, 2015 5:32 pm

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For all those wanting to see more Sharonian Atrocities, there is the minor problem that even if they wanted to conduct some, they have not had much opportunity to do so.

A good example from history, during WWII both the German and Soviet Armies earned reputations for acting very badly to enemy civilians (to the point of turning even actively friendly populations hostile). The British and American forces maintained reputations for acting very properly throughout the war and its aftermath. Why did this occur? Two primary reasons, lack of opportunity and military chain of command severely punishing soldiers who acted badly. Untill 1944, The main theater the British were operating in was North Africa, where there is a very limited civilian population. The Americans operated in the Pacific where civilians were possibly harder to find than in North Africa, or in Britain where anyone acting badly had functioning authorities to report crimes to, and the military command would prosecute.

There are only two groups of prisoners the Sharonians could have abused, those who were dropped off to be dealt with by the medics, and the group sent all the way back to Sharona (who we have heard nothing of). At least one of the prisoners that the Sharonian medics tried to heal, is telling anyone who will listen that he was abused.
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Re: All the idiots on the Arcanan side?
Post by Mil-tech bard   » Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:51 pm

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When you say this --

There may be perfectly logical reasons for the Caliraths being so saintly, but that doesn't stop it from being aggravating.


I don't have any idea where you are getting it.

The Caliraths are about the most calculatingly RUTHLESS dynasties going. Not just with others, but with people they have known for years, their sons and daughters, and with themselves.

On camera in the snippets, the Calirath emperor casually ordered his internal security talents to hunt down and murder any possible source of intelligence for non-Ternathian powers inside his own house staff.

That this ruthlessness has a tarted up face of "benevolence" is less because the Caliraths are "Saintly" than that they are better informed to the long term consequences of their actions.

That is what powerful preconitives do.
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