From a post to DAVIDWEBER.NET forums on 6/23/2011

Books added to the Writ after Shan-wei's Fall


Off Armageddon Reef, hardback version, pg 126 wrote:

    "Then there were The Book Jwo-Jeng and The Book of Schueler. Neither of them were as long as some of the others, but they went to the very heart of Langhorne's ultimate purpose here on Safehold. [...] And Schueler, whose "book" was both the shortest and the most horrifying of them all, defined the punishment to be visited upon those who violated the proscriptions of Langhorne and Jwo-Jeng. [...]

    But the most fascinating -- and infuriating -- of all, in many ways, was The Book of Chihiro.The book which had been added later, after the close of the original copy of the Writ which has been stored in the computers in Nimue's cave."

    I bolded it above to make it easier to see, but the singular phrasing above sure seems to be extremely precise and there seems to be no other realistic interpretation other than that only this book was added.

    Of course, you have every right to rewrite the books as needed to serve your purposes and/or the story's needs. But I do have to wonder if this was an "in case of emergency, break continent" situation, or if the original text was in fact an error that was missed when the original book was published (much like the Prime Minister requirement in the Honorverse)? Any chance of an an answer either way?


    The problem is that my choice of words in OAR apparently leaves a little to be desired. I didn't mean to indicate that the Book of Chihiro was THE book that was added, as in the sole and only book that was added. I meant to indicate that the seperate Book of Chihiro as the individual word of Chihiro as an archangel rather than as the author of the rest of the Writ and (more especially) as the history of Shan-wei's Rebellion had been added.

    Responsibility for the text of the initial Writ was assigned to Chihiro by Langhorne and Bedard. He was not the sole author (obviously), since he didn't have the knowledge to write the specialized sections of the various books, but he was the editor and he wrote a lot of the "connective tissue" of the original, pre-Fall draft which did not contain an individual book assigned to him. It also did not contain the Book of Schueler, but the Book of Schueler says very little about the history of the Fall, the reasons for Shan-wei's "rebellion," who the fallen archangels were, etc.; its function was simply to put the most hideous teeth possible into enforcing the Proscriptions in the wake of "Shan-wei's Rebellion." All of the "history" of the Fall, on the other hand, is contained in the Book of Chihiro, although he (or someone; tum-te-tum-te-tum) went back and edited most of the existing books to reflect the "rebellion" and to incoporate some passages especially into the Book of Langhorne to make it seem that he had at least some preknowledge of what was likely to happen but hoped that he was wrong and that none of the other archangels would actually fall into evil in the end after all. Thanks to Commodore Pei's briefings, Merlin knows who had overall authority to supervise the project originally --- Chihiro --- but he has no way to know exactly how the responsibility for the actual words broke down. There's no way at this time for him to know for certain which members of Langhorne's original command crew might (or might not) have actually written the books credited to them in their archangel personnae.

    The point is that Chihiro's book, the one personally credited to him, was added specifically as the history of the rebellion, not as the only book added to the Writ at that time, and it's my fault for not making that sufficiently clear.

    The Book of Schueler wasn't part of the original Writ either, but in the passage you cited for OAR, Merlin had already reflected on Schueler and the Prosciptions before he ever got around to thinking about the Book of Chihiro. That part of the internal viewpoint on the Writ was already in my rear view mirror, and I clearly gave too little thought to how something which was very clear to me, as the author, could confuse the reader. If I'd realized how the passage could be read --- that the word "the" could (quite reasonably) be taken to indicate that it was the only book which had been added, I would have rewritten the sentence to read something along the lines of: "The history which had been added later as part of the post-Fall revision of the original copy of the Writ which had been stored in the computers in Nimue's Cave."

    Commodore Pei wasn't around to plant a copy of the revised Writ in Nimue's Cave. From where I sat as the writer, that meant there'd been time (and room) for plenty of modification of the original text and that revision had been absolutely necessary because of the way Langhorne's original plans had just hit a radical bump in the road. That modification had included the addition of multiple books, one of which --- "the" one Merlin was thinking about at that particular moment --- was even more infuriating to him than any of the others because of the very specific fashion in which it maligned and demonized someone Nimue Alban had loved like a second mother. That was why Merlin was so focused on it in this passage, and, unfortunately, in seeking to emphasize that focus for the reader, I obviously created a situation which could mislead (or at least confuse) the reader, instead.

    Sorry about that.