Thursday, 23 March 2017

An Understated British Resurrection? (And Another Meal)

On p. 583 of SM Stirling, The Protector's War (New York, 2006), Chapter Twenty-One:

the Protectorate man, Mack, strikes at Rudi Mackenzie with his greatsword;
Sir Nigel Loring leaps desperately forward;
Sir Nigel gets his shield above Rudi;
the greatsword cuts through the shield and breaks Sir Nigel's arm;
Mack stamps on and breaks Sir Nigel's sword;
he kicks Sir Nigel's helmet off;
Sir Nigel falls back, bleeding from eyes, nose and mouth, and stops moving.

I took this to mean that Sir Nigel had been killed. The course of the battle becomes somewhat confusing. Mack kills another character and then Sir Nigel's son, Alleyne, shouts, "'Father!'" (p. 584) Mack is killed but Sir Nigel is not mentioned again.

I was surprised and pleased to read:

"Nigel Loring was there at [Rudi's] mother's right side..."
-SM Stirling, A Meeting At Corvallis (New York, 2007), Chapter One, p. 20.

They are seated at table for a meal:

corned beef;
grilled venison in a garlic and yogurt sauce;
mashed potatoes with onion;
steamed kale;
boiled cabbage;
glazed carrots;
dried tomato and onion in vinegar;
fresh bread;
hot cheddar biscuits;
blueberry tarts with whipped cream and honey;
creamy milk;
red wine;
dark frothy beer.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I think it's most LIKELY that you noticed a weak spot in Stirling's THE PROTECTOR'S WAR. The author should have made it plainer that, altho seriously wounded, Sir Nigel was not killed.

    And these scrumptious banquets are so tempting but unsuitable for sedentary persons like us! (Smiles)


  2. Paul and Sean:
    Perhaps it should be taken as an aspect of the point of view. Whoever's POV the scene was from didn't KNOW at that moment whether or not Sir Nigel was dead.

    One of the early books of his *The General* series had a character explicitly reported as dead — reported by the main character's wife, who usually had good information, being also his spy-mistress. I've seen a few readers grousing a bit because, although the fellow turned up alive for later books, no big thing was ever made about that report of his death having been mistaken.

    One weakness I've noticed in some of Eric Flint's works is that he'll toss in a line about how one of the characters will, in years and decades to come, reminisce about the current event. Which of course means the reader is in NO suspense concerning whether this person will die any time soon. He takes sick, and his comrades fear for his life? Pffft! The author already said he'll live another twenty years or more, wealthy and happily married.

    1. David,
      Any first person narration also assumes the survival of the viewpoint character - unless he turns out to be narrating from the hereafter, which is usually not the case.

    2. Paul:
      Or is ABOUT to die and has just long enough to write of how and why it's going to happen. "Now that I have finished this account, I am to be taken out and shot," or something along similar lines.

    3. Kaor, DAVID!

      Your first paragraph, the narrator simply did not know whether Sir Nigel was dead? A good point.

      I've read Drake/Stirling's THE GENERAL books more than once, but I can't recall the character you alluded to.

      I've only read two of Flint's "Ring of Fire" books so I've not noticed the weakness in the writing you discussed. But I do see what you mean!


    4. Sean:
      About midway through *The Forge*, bottom of page 188 in the 1991 paperback edition I've got, Suzette tells Raj that Captain Mekkle Thiddo and his company were wiped out by an enemy force that flanked Raj.

      Thiddo is a major and a battalion commander, though, in the next book, *The Hammer*. This time he DOES get killed, shot in the back by filthy blond barbarians who don't grasp the notion of respecting a parley flag. Then Raj Whitehall teaches the wogs the hard way, the FATAL way, the difference between warriors and soldiers. And for survivors from the specific group that murdered Thiddo ... "Crucify them."

    5. Kaor, DAVID!

      Fortunately we both have the same edition of THE FORGE so I had no trouble finding the incident you mentioned. This would simply be an example of Suzette being mistaken due to the "fog of war."

      And I do recall how Thiddo was treacherously murdered in violation of all the laws of civilized warfare. And, yes, Raj Whitehall certainly taught the "Squadrons" a harsh lesson in how not to fight a war. As one surviving Squadron said later of the Squadron soldiers recruited into the Civil Government's army (quoting from memory),"They know that courage is not enough." SOLDIERS fight SMART, mere warriors often fight with no thought of first PLANNING how to win.

      While I certainly agree the men who murdered Thiddo deserved death, I would have simply hanged or shoot them.


    6. Sean:
      The brutal culture of the Squadron (not that the Civil Government was much more enlightened) would take more of an object lesson from malefactors being killed in a lingering and painful way than from a quick execution. They'd see mercy as a sign of weakness.

    7. Kaor, Paul!

      A good point, one I have to regretfully agree with. I forgot about how CHILDISHLY brutal the Squadrons were. And the harsh conditions of life on the planet Bellevue did its bit to help make the Civil Government almost as bad.