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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 n7axw   » Sun Jan 31, 2016 11:49 pm

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PeterZ wrote:I searched but did not find the specific section I was thinking of. I could have sworn there was a conversation between Toralk and Harshu that touched on Harshu's suspicions of mul Gurthak, Neshok and Carthos. I'll reread RTH and find it then.

In the mean time I will settle for speculation that Harshu suspected mul Gurthak of wanting to disregard the Kerellian Accords for some political manoeuvre. Accepting command of the AEF was his attempt to give Arcana its military goals while not letting the Accords be completely ignored.

One can argue whether Harshu chose the lesser of two evils in a binary solution set or took an expedient choice that was avoidable to attaining his goal. I don't believe it can be argued he made the choice without thinking of those his choice would impact as the primary concern. He truly wanted to do the best he could for all concerned within the priorities set by his responsibilities.



I think I remember that. It happened about the time Harshu started getting dispatches from mul Gurthak repriminding him for exceeding his written instructions with his offensive which occured after the repulse of the attack on Ft Salby.

I've never thought that Harshu didn't mean well. My criticism of him has focused more around the narrowness of his concern. You remember my discussion of actions and consequences some of which were hidden from the view of the person making the choices. Sometimes we hear that an officier must act "for the benefit of the service." The benefit of the service goes far beyond the tactical choices a commander must make in a specific campaign.

Now, for example, we know that his service superior was plotting to deliver not only the army, but all of Arcana over into Mythaln control. If the plot succeeds, the Skakiran Line Lords will be able to say to their Ransaran audience, "Look at what so called Andaran honor is worth. In violation of the Accords, they tortured POWs, murdered people out of expediency and lied to their own people about what was going on. Further, look how inept those Andarans are. They led an army out and then allowed it to be trapped and destroyed by the Sharonians. Maybe it's time for a change in management."

Now there is no way that Harshu could have known about or be held responsible for a Shakira plot. Yet by his choices, he fed into the plot's story line. He was set up for it all along. That is what I'm talking about when I say that his compromise of his honor led to consequences hidden from him.

May I suggest that this is always how it is? The consequences of our choices always have a ripple effect that goes beyond the focus of our immediate concern, and yes, beyond our awareness. The only way we can deal with that is to make good honorable choices and be that person others can trust. While that doesn't neccessarily mitigate all the hidden consequences of our actions, what it does do if we are consistent with that is gain us the credibility to cope with those consequences once they come out in the open.

Right now Harshu is out of both credibility and luck. He should stand down his army to avoid getting his men killed for no good purpose.

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   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 12:36 am

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As I said, I don't totally disagree. My point was that Harshu faced two dishonorable choices. He could decline command and watch his men led into dishonor or he could take command and mitigate what he could. If he believed his Andaran honor bound him to guard his men...his responsibility...then declining command is dishonorable. He had a choice between accepting one of two dishonorable options.

While you hold that Harshu had an honorable option, I hold that he had only dishonorable options available to him. He chose the option that required him to act to protect what he could rather than passively allow harm, some of which he could have prevented, to come to those he was responsible for protecting.
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by Astelon   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 1:40 am

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Harshu's honorable option was to arrest Neshok the moment he had evidence of Neshok's actions. A report from a healer who examined those Neshok tortured would have been plenty to call for a court martial. Yes it would have slowed down the advance, but it would have still arrived at Fort Salby; it is unlikely that Harshu would have attempted to attack the reinforced Fort Salby.

Arresting Neshok would probably have forced mul Gurthak to take action, or it would likely have ended his plans. Not saying Harshu would have survived this option, but his death would have looked suspicious, especially when Toralk got to talking to the investigators that would inevitably follow up on the accord violations.

I don't believe that mul Gurthak had any idea that Sharona could trap and destroy the AEF. He doesn't even appear to have given the Sharonian response or capabilities much thought. What thought he did give them probably revolved around their lack of magic meaning the sharonians were no match for Arcanan military.
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by PeterZ   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:11 am

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Astelon,

Reread mul Gurthak's recording to his superiors. In it he actively plans assuming Sharona will respond powerfully and increase the body count. As we see in RTH he also planned to deny Harshu reinforcements. Given the power of the non-magical guns that destroyed Thalmayr's force at Hell's Gate, mul Guthak suspects that the Sharonan response will hammer the AEF.

I agree that he should arrested Neshok. I don't agree that they could have taken Fort Salby without the Intel gained by Neshok. Chan Geraith's force could have held the fort even without Hanoi. With Hank present the AEF would have flown into the same nightmare and faced a more powerful force. Had the AEF been delayed even 3 more days, Chan Geraith would have had his lead forces at Fort Salby.

The entire point is to take a point to choke off a sustained Sharonan response. Any avoidable delay would have denied the AEF that chance.
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by n7axw   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:32 am

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PeterZ wrote:Astelon,

Reread mul Gurthak's recording to his superiors. In it he actively plans assuming Sharona will respond powerfully and increase the body count. As we see in RTH he also planned to deny Harshu reinforcements. Given the power of the non-magical guns that destroyed Thalmayr's force at Hell's Gate, mul Guthak suspects that the Sharonan response will hammer the AEF.

I agree that he should arrested Neshok. I don't agree that they could have taken Fort Salby without the Intel gained by Neshok. Chan Geraith's force could have held the fort even without Hanoi. With Hank present the AEF would have flown into the same nightmare and faced a more powerful force. Had the AEF been delayed even 3 more days, Chan Geraith would have had his lead forces at Fort Salby.

The entire point is to take a point to choke off a sustained Sharonan response. Any avoidable delay would have denied the AEF that chance.


Yeah, but even though what you say is true, he still doesn't really take Sharona seriously. After all sinse they don't have magic, they are primatives to him, primatives who can be contained, available as another tool in his mechinations, someone else to be used and discarded. His Shakira blind spot is miles wide here.

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   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:40 am

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n7axw wrote:
Yeah, but even though what you say is true, he still doesn't really take Sharona seriously. After all sinse they don't have magic, they are primatives to him, primatives who can be contained, available as another tool in his mechinations, someone else to be used and discarded. His Shakira blind spot is miles wide here.

Don

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Sharonans are primitives without magic. On the other hand Andarans are only slightly more advanced. Without Mythal's influence, Andara would be no better than Sharona grubbing their way through life as bereft of magic as any animal or garthan. From that perspective, the blind spot you mention applies to any non-Mythalan in the story.
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by n7axw   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 2:46 pm

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I just got through reading through my search on mul Gurthak, including that section in HHNF where he reprts to the Mythalan council. I can't see that he factors in Sharona at all except in so far as they impact his scheme. He is totally focused on "the great task" of getting the Shakira in charge of Arcana. Mul Guthak is smart enough, but his weakness is that at rock bottom he is so convinced of his own superiority that he underestimates his opposition.

Talk about dumb...Neshok has recordings of his conversations with mul Gurthak and plans to tell him about it... as if he didn't think that mul Gurthak had a line or two in his plan for dealing with him...

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 Howard T. Map-addict   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:15 pm

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Peter,

I suspect that the scene you are thinking of is in HHNF,
near the end, in which 2000 Harshu tells 1000 Toralk that
mul Gurthik's *written* orders do not call for an attack
beyond Hell's Gate (unless "absolutely necessary").
It was only when Harshu read that, that he understood that
mul Gurthik was betraying him.

As for the composing of the Battle Plan,
which several posters discuss above,
my impression is that mul Gurthik did not make the Plan at all,
leaving it to the men on the spot, and especially did not make
any details about torturing to get information (of course he
could rely on Neshok to do that!).
I don't claim sufficient textev to prove it,
but I gather that the details of the Plan were made by Harshu,
Toralk, and Carthos, with input from the 500s who would be
executing it, and *verbal encouragement* from mul Gurthik.

HTM

PeterZ wrote:I searched but did not find the specific section I was
thinking of. I could have sworn there was a conversation
between Toralk and Harshu that touched on Harshu's
suspicions of mul Gurthak, Neshok and Carthos.
I'll reread RTH and find it then.

[snip - htm]

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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by PeterZ   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:34 pm

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Based on that textev, Howard, I would tend to agree. However, when one combines the totality of the conversations that Harshu, mul Gurthak and Toralk had either with each other or separately, one can make some assumptions.

One is that Harshu is too senior an officer in a largely peacetime army to not be cognizant of political maneuvering. Having been felt out by mul Gurthak, Harshu would have had a solid idea what mul Gurthak wanted from the AEF advance. If mul Gurthak gave verbal instructions to use whatever means necessary to get the information necessary to secure the logistical choke point for Arcana, Harshu would have included that in his plans. He would also use the tools mul Gurthak gave him, like Carthos and Neshok. So, while there is no text definitively proving harshu knew about the plot, is not unreasonable to assume he picked up enough to see some of the obvious elements. Obvious like putting that psycho Neshok on the intel staff with a significant promotion and loading Carthos onto Harshu's command means that mul Gurthak really wants very little deference to the Kerellian Accords in accomplishing the military goals he set.

Howard T. Map-addict wrote:Peter,

I suspect that the scene you are thinking of is in HHNF,
near the end, in which 2000 Harshu tells 1000 Toralk that
mul Gurthik's *written* orders do not call for an attack
beyond Hell's Gate (unless "absolutely necessary").
It was only when Harshu read that, that he understood that
mul Gurthik was betraying him.

As for the composing of the Battle Plan,
which several posters discuss above,
my impression is that mul Gurthik did not make the Plan at all,
leaving it to the men on the spot, and especially did not make
any details about torturing to get information (of course he
could rely on Neshok to do that!).
I don't claim sufficient textev to prove it,
but I gather that the details of the Plan were made by Harshu,
Toralk, and Carthos, with input from the 500s who would be
executing it, and *verbal encouragement* from mul Gurthik.

HTM

PeterZ wrote:I searched but did not find the specific section I was
thinking of. I could have sworn there was a conversation
between Toralk and Harshu that touched on Harshu's
suspicions of mul Gurthak, Neshok and Carthos.
I'll reread RTH and find it then.

[snip - htm]

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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by brnicholas   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:17 pm

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n7axw wrote:
brnicholas wrote:
My answer is a bit more nuanced. I think that if Harshu was going to attack he had to use torture. It is not conceivable that he could have pulled of the attack without it, he couldn't have found the portals past Hell's Gate without getting prisoners to tell him where they were and torture was the only way to do that.

...snipped...

Nicholas


You are aware, of course, that your assertion here is controversial. There are ways of interrogating that do not involve torture and could well be more reliable. I am not qualified to rule one way or the other on the matter, but I've seen interrogaters interviewed who would contradict what you are saying here.

Yes he did need to know where the portals were, but my thought is that these were pristine universes and that Sharonians couldn't fly. That would mean that they would have to build at least crude roads upon which to travel to build their portal forts and move from portal to portal which should have made it possible to scout from the air.

As for the attack, once he accepted the command he probably was legally bound by the orders of his lawful superior. He probably could have sent hummer messages to the commandery in Portalis to inform them of those orders should they want to supervise mul Gurthak more closely.

I suspect that without Neshok's input, the campaign would probably had the same outcome as it did. It might have gone slower and been a bit more expensive in terms of casualties. But up to Ft. Salby, none of those portal forts were strong enough to resist Harshu even if they had been forewarned. That means he would have been stopped about where he was.

Don

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As regards the "necessity" that Harshu use torture to get information. You may be right about what is theoretically possible although I doubt the speed that the combination of torture and truth spells permitted Neshok to get information is possible without that combination. Even so the theoretical possibility is not relevant if Harshu does not have someone who can make that possibility a reality.

While we don't have definite evidence and absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and I don't trust Harshu's judgement. Still the fact that Harshu doesn't think he has another choice and another option is never mentioned by anyone, implies that he didn't have anyone who could use those techniques to get him the information he needed.

As regards to your suggestion that he would have moved slower without torture but the result would have been the same I disagree. I think if the Sharonan's had learned about dragons at any point earlier then they did they would have been able to stop Harshu cold. Any Sharonan effort to defend against air attacks would have prevented what happened and Harshu does not have the forces and reserves to dig out a couple of dug in Sharonan companies more then once or twice and even that would probably bleed him white. Personally I think if chan Tesh had known about dragons Harshu wouldn't have even been able to take Hell's Gate. (The fact that DW blatantly arranged things to prevent the Sharonan's from knowing about dragons, the coincidence of the wood cutting parties that prevented chan Tesh's scouts from seeing a dragon was a clear Deus ex Machina, argues he thinks so to.)

In summary, to succeed at all Harshu had to move fast and cut the Sharonan's communications (your point about following roads to find portals is a good one but I think the voice relays would be impossible to take by surprise that way), I don't think he could do that without torture.

Nicholas
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