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Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD

"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: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by brnicholas   » Thu Feb 04, 2016 5:03 pm

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Don,

The thread has drifted in the last couple of days but I would like to return briefly to the argument about torture. I see you saying that torture is always unacceptable and therefor Harshu was wrong to permit it. You are defending that statement by arguing that Harshu didn't need to torture to achieve his goals and his torturing will have broader consequences which the moral compromises he made by torturing will prevent him from addressing.

I am saying that Harshu did need to torture to achieve what he achieved but that his goals would not have been embraced by anyone with the common sense God gave little green apples so his decision to attack and everything that follows from it, including the torture, is unjustifiable.

The disagreement over what would have happened if Harshu had forced Neshok to follow the Accords is one only DW can answer. As for the moral legitimacy of torture, I'm only prepared to entertain it if speed is critical, there is no other way to get the information and the answers can be checked quickly enough to get true ones. In real life one is very rare and two and three mutually incompatible, only the verifier spell made it possible for Neshok to use torture effectively. So I agree with you that torture is never legitimate in real life.

Nicholas
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by n7axw   » Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:16 pm

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brnicholas wrote:
n7axw wrote:
Thanks Howard. My guess was a bit low, but the point that it was basically a light force still stands. Harshu obviously knew that he couldn't march on Tajvana with it. So the attack on Ft. Salby makes little sense. And especially makes one wonder about the throwing good money after bad with the second attempt.

Don

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You may be forgetting just how ignorant Harshu was of Sharonan transport capabilities. When he goes for Ft. Salby he has no clue what the railroad means. He is still working out of the assumption with which he started the attack, that Sharona is limited to animal drawn transport. It is not completely unreasonable for him to think that given the favorable terrain at Ft. Salby his 14,000 can hold off everything the Sharonan's can supply with mule drawn wagons.

Of course the Sharonan's aren't limited to mule drawn wagons. The lack of effort to acquire that information is part of why I think the whole attack makes little sense.

Nicholas


Yeah, but he had to have understood that the Sharonians were moving against him in strength. He didnt know how soon, but he knew they were coming. The immediate objective of his campaign was to seize a portal he could hold until reinforced. He had that with the gap which he could defend. Ft. Salby he couldn't defend against serious attack.

As far as the Sharonians moving with animal transport, he already knew about steam. He bypassed those rail workers on the far side of the gap, so he knew about the railroads even if he didn't understand completely the capacity of railroads for transport. In short, Ft Salby was a bridge too far even if he had actually taken the place.

Don

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When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by n7axw   » Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:55 pm

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Another reflection and something else that might be fun to speculate about is Drindel Usar, the shark caller.

Drindel is an Urmothian who failed to re-register his talent with authorities and only escaped prison because Chava needed his talent in Tajvana.

He is in on the plot to kill the imperial family with his target Andrin who find herself in the water right before the Peregrine exploded. To summarise, Drindel calls in his sharks intended to devour the princess, but the orcas also show up and begin feeding on the sharks, foiling the plan.

So Andrin survives along with her husband and when Drindel realizes this, the last we see of him is the he is intent on getting out of town as fast as possible.

So where does he go? Uromathia doesn't seem like a likely destination, given Chava's response to failure. Ternathia? That might be better as long as his role in the conspiracy isn't known.

Will Drindel be apprehended and turn out to provide the evidence linking Chava to the assasination attempt on the Caliraths?

Don

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When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by PeterZ   » Fri Feb 05, 2016 9:57 am

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Drindel won't make out of Tajvana. Imperial Security will find him pretty quickly.

I wondered why the rest of the Uromathain assassination team let him live. His was a weak talent and slow intellect. Drindel was a witness that the murderers of the Seneschal were not Arcanan. He is Uromathian and knows the others on the assassination team are also Uromathian. Why let him live? When he is found by Imperial Security, Andrin will know the Seneschal's partner was likely Chava.

As things stand the Ternaithians have been pretty civilized and forgiving about things. After the near success of the assassination of the Emporer, the gloves come off. If Chava is considered the author of that attempt, he will die one way or another. We know Chava has been keeping military units available in Sharona. That won't be enough to keep him alive.

Text suggests that the Uromathian Empire will disintegrate upon Chava's death. That bit of supposition might or might no be right. It does suggest that any transition away from a Chava led government would be chaotic and bloody. Current government officials would see the end of Chava's reign as the likely end of their comfortable(mostly) lives.

If they are confronted with a Ternaithian led Sharonan Empire demanding Chava's head for the attempted assassination of the Emperor, how will those Uromathian officials jump? Will they facilitate the Empire's attempt to peacefully transition the Uromathian Empire away from the Busar dynasty? Will they fight tooth and nail to resist such a move? We don't know. What we do know is if the Sharonan Empire want's Chava's head they will get it one way or another. Those in the Uromathian Empire's leadership will know that too.

Which brings the original question I posed back in full force. Why let Drindel live?
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by Mil-tech bard   » Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:00 am

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...I have a problem with Harshu not seeing mul Gurthak bringing in Neshok as fishy, especially when Carthos is also brought in as his second in command. The combination means suggests powerfully that if harshu becomes squeamish, he can be easily replaced. That alone would trigger alarms even if he see no deeper than that.


Harshu's reaction to mul Gurthak bringing in Neshok is a "Not enough data to judge" event, IMO.

I haven't seen enough about how high level Arcanian military personnel and politics interacts in the book series to be able to judge whether Harshu was being stupid as opposed to naïve.

Harshu strikes me as a very narrow point of view combat specialist.

Think a mustang, up from the ranks, USMC Full Colonel as opposed to a more political animal like a "promoted before the zone" two star US Army Divisional commander who was an aide to a retired 4-star general.

The former would miss mul Gurthak's politics while the latter would have created a direct message route around to the Arcanian Main HQ before he committed himself to attacking the Sharonan's.
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by PeterZ   » Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:30 am

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Mil-tech bard wrote:
...I have a problem with Harshu not seeing mul Gurthak bringing in Neshok as fishy, especially when Carthos is also brought in as his second in command. The combination means suggests powerfully that if harshu becomes squeamish, he can be easily replaced. That alone would trigger alarms even if he see no deeper than that.


Harshu's reaction to mul Gurthak bringing in Neshok is a "Not enough data to judge" event, IMO.

I haven't seen enough about how high level Arcanian military personnel and politics interacts in the book series to be able to judge whether Harshu was being stupid as opposed to naïve.

Harshu strikes me as a very narrow point of view combat specialist.

Think a mustang, up from the ranks, USMC Full Colonel as opposed to a more political animal like a "promoted before the zone" two star US Army Divisional commander who was an aide to a retired 4-star general.

The former would miss mul Gurthak's politics while the latter would have created a direct message route around to the Arcanian Main HQ before he committed himself to attacking the Sharonan's.


I'm with here, Mtb. One problem, Arcana hasn't have much opportunity in their 200 years of peace for a military combat specialist to gain promotion to Harshu's level unless he gained political savvy. That leaves two possibilities as I see it: 1) Harshu agreed that torture was necessary to achieve the military objectives he was given, or 2) Harshu believed he could manage to mitigate any harm those bozos would do.

If Harshu believed torture was necessary, he would have issued orders stipulating what sort of treatment was acceptable within the context of the Kerellian Accords. That was not the case.

If he believed he could manage any excesses, he would have done much as he did in the story. As Don argues there are things he could have done to better mitigate those excesses.

My problem is that Harshu appeared to have stopped considering the issue of Neshok and Carthos with mitigating any potential excesses. He doesn't really investigate why those bozos were foisted on him to begin with. If the answer was as simple as Neshok and Carthos having similar ethics as Mythaln Shakira, Harshu should have questioned mul Gurthak's history of Andaran behavior. This answer would suggest that mul Gurthak would approach Sharonans like Shakira approach rebellious garthan rather than how an Andaran would approach an enemy, after all. Once that mul Gurthak's past behavior questioned, then look for deeper plots.

If they were foisted on Harshu as a bone tossed to two of mul Gurthak's favorites, there would be no real drive for those bozos to be given loose reigns. Harshu could reign them in as tightly as he saw fit. That was not the case the story described.

I just can't reconcile Harshu's apparent naiveté with his rank. Doubtless there is a reason. Just not one I see given the information we have.
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by Mil-tech bard   » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:24 am

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PeterZ wrote: I'm with here, Mtb. One problem, Arcana hasn't have much opportunity in their 200 years of peace for a military combat specialist to gain promotion to Harshu's level unless he gained political savvy. That leaves two possibilities as I see it: 1) Harshu agreed that torture was necessary to achieve the military objectives he was given, or 2) Harshu believed he could manage to mitigate any harm those bozos would do.

If Harshu believed torture was necessary, he would have issued orders stipulating what sort of treatment was acceptable within the context of the Kerellian Accords. That was not the case.

If he believed he could manage any excesses, he would have done much as he did in the story. As Don argues there are things he could have done to better mitigate those excesses.

My problem is that Harshu appeared to have stopped considering the issue of Neshok and Carthos with mitigating any potential excesses. He doesn't really investigate why those bozos were foisted on him to begin with. If the answer was as simple as Neshok and Carthos having similar ethics as Mythaln Shakira, Harshu should have questioned mul Gurthak's history of Andaran behavior. This answer would suggest that mul Gurthak would approach Sharonans like Shakira approach rebellious garthan rather than how an Andaran would approach an enemy, after all. Once that mul Gurthak's past behavior questioned, then look for deeper plots.

If they were foisted on Harshu as a bone tossed to two of mul Gurthak's favorites, there would be no real drive for those bozos to be given loose reigns. Harshu could reign them in as tightly as he saw fit. That was not the case the story described.

I just can't reconcile Harshu's apparent naiveté with his rank. Doubtless there is a reason. Just not one I see given the information we have.


Peter Z,

First, open frontiers and settling of same include everything except large scale force on force combat. Patrolling, long distance logistics, and skirmishing (with criminal gangs) that make up most of wars between the set-piece engagements are still there for the Arcanian Union Armed Forces. Long service professionalism will be rewarded.

As for the rest, this is still a case of "Not enough Data."

It is hard to place oneself into the mindset of the Andaran honor codes or how they interact with the obligations of the Arcanian union military. We have only seen bits and pieces of it in the story line.

Harshu may never have had to deal with a Mul before, given the 85% plus Andaran make up of Arcanian Union Military Forces and that mul social class Mylathans just started integrating into the Arcanian Union military in the current generation.

We don't know what sort of Andaran noble-officer patrons Harshu had prior to the story, who got him where he was.

We don't know if those patrons ever had to deal with high level Mul's in the Arcanian Union military so as to prepare Harshu to deal with them.

And mul Gurthak intriguing to start a war, get thousands of his own troops killed _AND_ assassinating those troops commanding officers is so far outside the operating paradigm of the Andaran honor codes as to count as a "Black Swan event."
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by Howard T. Map-addict   » Fri Feb 05, 2016 11:31 am

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I cannot agree that Neshok and Carthos were chosen by
mul Gurthak from a long list of available officers,
or even from a short list.

Rather, it looks to me as if, on receiving the "Alien Humans"
alarm, mul Gurthak called for everyone in his command area,
all fourteen thousand of them,
including one other com-2000 (Harshu) (= O-6),
two com-1000s (O-5) Carthos and Toralk,
and a bunch of com-500s (O-4).

Then he assigned the Senior Officer (Harshu) to command them,
with the next seniors as deputies. Hardly a "choice."
I can see no reason for suspicion.
Mul Gurthak might have previously chosen Neshok as his G-2,
from all of the officers in his command area (nine worlds),
but when the balloon went up, Harshu needed a G-2,
and Neshok was there on the spot.

So I disagree that those two officers gave Harshu cause
for suspicion.
---------------------------------------------------

On the other subject in this thread, numbers,
I have previously said that 14,000 soldiers are the
strength-equivalent of a division, and would normally be
commmanded by a com-10,000, with two or three com-5000s
to assist him. The officers present, a colonel, two light
colonels, and a bunch of majors, are working well above
their pay grades. From that alone, errors can be expected.

And I seem to recall either Klian or Harshu thinking
something very much like that as the force is assembling
at the end of Book One, Hell's Gate.

HTM

PeterZ wrote:
I would agree with you {M-t b} that mul Gurthak's full plan remains obscure. I have a problem with Harshu not seeing mul Gurthak bringing in Neshok as fishy, especially when Carthos is also brought in as his second in command. The combination means suggests powerfully that if harshu becomes squeamish, he can be easily replaced. That alone would trigger alarms even if he see no deeper than that.
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by brnicholas   » Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:20 pm

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We really don't know much about Harshu's background but I cannot believe that he rose based on politics. All his political decisions in the first two books are bad! He trusts mul Gurthak far more then he should and acts in extraordinary ways on verbal orders without written confirmation. He vastly underestimates the effect of his actions on the Sharonans, or any opponent. Toward the end of HHNF he is saying that negotiations have to resume, even after he used diplomatic guards to launch a surprise attack on the Sharonans! He also appears to have completely failed to grasp the effect Neshok's briefings would have on his troops. He explicitly told Toralk that there wasn't much free lance prisoner abuse going on!

So how did he rise to 2000 with such bad political instincts?

We know from 50 Garlath that birth matters a lot for Andaran aristocrats. It is said being the son of a Baron was the only thing keeping him in the army.

So, perhaps 2000 Harshu achieved that rank by a combination of birth, technical competence and time in grade. I see no reason to think he was heading higher. The frontier like this is where I would expect to see an up and coming Junior officer like Jasek. They get independent commands on the frontier where they can show their stuff. For a 2000 though the frontier means commanding below their rank, the full force would never be concentrated, and having no chance to get the attention of a senior officer unless something goes spectacularly wrong (and then you will probably be two far away to get credit for fixing it).

My thinking is mul Gurthak was out here because he had hit the glass ceiling that stops everyone but Andaran aristocrats from rising to senior rank. Harshu was out here because his political ineptness was preventing him from rising any higher.

Nicholas

PS - I agree with Howard's interpretation of who was present in mul Gurthak's command area.
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by n7axw   » Fri Feb 05, 2016 7:52 pm

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The thing that I find myself thinking is in terms of the decision to attack is that the buck doesn't really stop with Harshu. It stops with mul Gurthak. Not only is he Harshu's senior officer, but he was governor of the region where the encounter with the Sharonions occurred as well. He was the one to set the conditions of the attack, send out the diplomats and then set the diplomacy up to fail and when that was judged to happen, the stage is set. The stage was for Arcana, by the way, not Sharona.

What I am struggling with is the notion of a chain of command without any checks and balances. To be sure in the event of a real attack, mul Gurthak had to defend his area of responsibility. But he had gotten the Sharonians to stand down for negotiations. At that point mul Gurthak should have had to kick the whole situation up stairs to Portalis who then should have sent someone out with the authority of the Union and the commandery to confer with mul Gurthak and Harshu as well as treat with Sharona. My point is that such procedure apparently did not exist, leaving mul Gurthak free to follow his own fancy without any acccountability.

Don

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When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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