Snippet – The Prince’s War

15 May

I just had this running through my head.


From: An Unbiased History of the Imperial Royal Family.  Professor Leo Caesius.  Avalon.  206PE.

It is extremely difficult to trace the history of the Imperial Royal Family – as it became known – past the final stages of the disintegration and the early days of the Unification Wars.  Part of this, of course, is an inevitable result of the wars and their attendant devastation; a great many records were lost and/or deliberately destroyed during the fighting.  Certain factions, particularly during the opening stages of the conflict, believed that it would be better to erase the past so the human race could stride forward into a brave new future, and therefore set out to capture or destroy as many records as possible.  Others simply ignored the danger of historical erasure, and revisionism, until it was too late. 

But a far more significant problem was caused by the newborn Imperial Household’s determination to legitimatise its position.  There were no shortage of academics willing to take thirty pieces of silver – or, more practically, lands and titles – in exchange for creating largely or entirely fictional genealogies for their patrons to use as propaganda.  The results were quite remarkable.  The First Emperor was hailed as the direct descendent of such figures as Alexander the Great, Augustus Caesar, Elizabeth Tudor and many others, ranging from Jesus Christ to George Washington and Joe Buckley.  Links were drawn between him and nearly every figure of consequence, to a truly absurd degree.  He was not only the sole heir to every kingdom on Old Earth, but also lands that simply never existed, including little known fictional kingdoms such as Gondar, Narnia and Wakanda.

This had two unfortunate – and entirely predictable – effects on academic enquiry.  An unwary student, more intent on getting a good grade rather than actually think about the material in front of him, might not notice the inconsistencies and frank impossibilities, such as a marriage between Queen Elizabeth Tudor of England (1533-1603, PSE) and Shaka Zulu (1787-1828, PSE), a marriage that would have been unlikely even if the two hadn’t lived and died nearly two hundred years apart.  A more perceptive student, on the other hand, might realise there were just too many discrepancies to be accidental and come to the conclusion that the whole field was irredeemably damaged beyond repair.  Such students would either leave of their own accord or, if they alienated their academic supervisors, would be pushed out or simply sidelined.  The Imperial University’s administrators knew very well there were fields of enquiry that could not be touched, not without angering their patrons.  What was the life of one student compared to the whole university?

Perversely, the truth is better than the fairy tale.  The First Emperor – whose name was largely stricken from the records, to be replaced by a decidedly impersonal title – was a high-ranking military officer during the early years of the disintegration.  Realising the endless wars were futile – his autobiography makes no mention of the burning ambition that was a mark of his career – he convinced a number of his fellows to mount a coup, seized control of the government and then embarked upon a series of increasingly sophisticated military campaigns to bring the rest of the settled worlds under his control.  He was more than just a naval officer, it must be noted; his skill at convincing former opponents to join him, or at the very least not to oppose him, was quite remarkable.  When he took the title of Emperor, he rewarded his followers by making them Grand Senators.  They in turn rewrote history to make it appear they had always been part of the rightful ruling class.

Whatever else can be said about the First Emperor, he did his work well.  By the time his son succeeded to the Imperial Throne, the empire was on a solid footing and could easily survive a handful of weak or clumsy rulers.  There was enough of a balance of power, the ruling class felt, to ensure both a degree of stability and a certain amount of social mobility.  It should have endured forever.

It did not.  It took years – centuries – for decay to start to take hold, but it did.  A trio of weak emperors allowed the Grand Senate to take more and more power for itself, then – worse – failed to play the different factions within the senate to right the balance of power.  Social mobility slowed to a crawl, the successive emperors losing much of their influence as they were increasingly dominated by the aristocracy.  Many of them lost themselves in mindless hedonism, whiling away the hours with wine, women, song and pleasures forbidden even to the aristocracy.  The handful who tried to reclaim their birthright were swiftly slapped down by the new rulers of empire.  Emperor Darren II was assassinated – it was blamed on terrorists, but the act was clearly ordered by the aristocracy – and Empress Lyudmila was held prisoner by her unwanted husband, then murdered when she produced a heir. 

By the time the Empire entered its final days, the Imperial Throne was occupied – to all intents and purposes – by Prince Roland, known to the public as the Childe Roland.  He was officially declared a great moral and spiritual leader, but the reality was somewhat different.  Prince Roland – the Grand Senate hadn’t been able to decide on when he should be formally crowned – was, by the time he entered his teenage years, a useless layabout.  The only good thing that could be said about him, it should be noted, was that he’d not fallen as far into depravity as some of his ancestors.  It was generally believed that it was just a matter of time.

The Commandant of the Terran Marine Corps, in a desperate bid to turn the situation around, made use of the Corps’s long-held power to appoint bodyguards to the Imperial Household and assigned Specialist Belinda Lawson to take care of the prince and, hopefully, make a man out of him.  She was rather more successful than one might expect, knocking some sense into the nearly-adult prince, but it was already too late.  Earth collapsed into chaos and it was all Belinda could do, along with the prince, to escape.  The Empire died and, as far as anyone outside the Corps knew, Prince Roland died with it.  In reality, he was transferred to a Marine Corps starship.

This was, as far as the Corps was concerned, an awkward position.   Roland was the legal ruler of the known galaxy.  However, practically speaking, he ruled nothing.  The Empire was dead and gone.  The Corps could not recover even the Core Worlds, already blighted by civil war, let alone the rest of the settled worlds.  Roland was an Emperor without an Empire; an unfinished young man who might be an asset but might equally become a burden.  And that left the Corps with a serious problem.

What – exactly – were they going to do with Prince Roland?

14 Responses to “Snippet – The Prince’s War”

  1. Bill May 15, 2021 at 12:42 pm #

    Sounds good so far! I really enjoy your Empire Corps Novels and look forward to many more!

  2. bill May 15, 2021 at 12:44 pm #

    Sounds good so Far! I really enjoy reading the novels in the Empire Corps series.

  3. perkybunch61 May 15, 2021 at 1:31 pm #

    It sounds really good. Looking forward to the next novel.

  4. RogerStrahan May 15, 2021 at 2:13 pm #

    Been waiting on this one

  5. Clark Lind May 15, 2021 at 2:22 pm #

    Well, it it obviously time to find a body-double to fill in for his young highness, and put him thru basic training… or maybe prevent an assassination attempt and remove him to safety and leave the Senate to find a double to fill in since it would look bad if there were no Prince after all… but don’t go for the obvious Monte Cristo or Iron Mask return, instead, X years later, there is rumor of a rightful heir to the Empire on another world, and loyalists are flocking to the new Emperor, leaving the Senate to declare war on the obvious imposter… this could go lots of places. In the absence of Roland, the Senate places their own puppet on the throne… etc etc. Now you’ve got me thinking! lol Plenty of potential here if it fits within your designs.

  6. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard May 15, 2021 at 3:31 pm #

    What – exactly – were they going to do with Prince Roland?

    Give him training in administration and diplomacy, then put him in charge of a small planet that they’ve “rescued” to see how he does.

    After all the Marines are all but conquering worlds and military government isn’t always a good idea.

    So Prince Roland could serve as the Civilian Leader of the Marines and the worlds that the Marines are gathering under their protection.

  7. Dick May 15, 2021 at 10:16 pm #

    ?is this a forthcoming volume? Or you’re just thinking about it?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard May 15, 2021 at 10:22 pm #

      Chris has said that “The Prince’s War” will be the next “Empire’s Corps” book.

      He’s just not sure if it will be the next book written.

      • randallberger May 16, 2021 at 12:31 pm #

        Next cab off the rank is CHILD OF DESTINY … a SIM book …

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard May 16, 2021 at 3:24 pm #


        Of course, I was thinking “next book after Child Of Destiny”. 😀

  8. randallberger May 16, 2021 at 8:03 am #

    FINALLY! I’ve been waiting since Empire Corps 3 to find out what happens! There were a few teases in HALLS OF MONTEZUMA, I think, but this should tell us what happened to the Childe Roland and Belinda Lawson …

  9. James Jeffery May 16, 2021 at 5:51 pm #

    I always wondered what happened to Roland, I’m looking forward to his story unfolding.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard May 16, 2021 at 6:56 pm #

      He’s been mentioned as receiving Marine Training but yes I look forward to seeing more of him.

  10. Bewildered May 21, 2021 at 10:29 am #

    Just started this and noted: “The First Emperor was hailed as the direct descendent of such figures as … and many others, ranging from Jesus Christ to George Washington and Joe Buckley.”

    It may not be an issue for all fans, but it will offend Christians. You’d actually be safer crediting Muhammad as an ancestor given he had lots of children whereas Jesus never married, never ‘knew’ a woman, and ascended to Heaven when His ministry on Earth was done. The theology may not matter to you, but if you ignore what the Bible records about His life then there’s very little mention of Him in other records. Far more than should be expected for a minor random rabbi to be sure, but not enough to be noteworthy. Does Muhammad appear in historical records outside Islam? I’m guessing here but I expect as a rising warlord some of his exploits and the rising threat he posed would rate a mention. Sorry bit of a tangent there but it’s a landmine you may wish to avoid.

    You say that perceptive students will note alleged relationships between individuals who lived centuries apart, then either quit or be pushed out by faculty beholden to the purse strings. If historical truth has been lost however, then why are those individuals still relevant? How would Charlemagne or Queen Victoria or Gandulf be useful as ancestors if it’s unclear when they existed, where they lived, or what they did?

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