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Schueler suffered from Disassociative Personality Disorder
There are extreme differences between how he appears in the Key and Seijin Kohdy's diary and how he appears in the Writ and in the effects that followed the afformentioned diary. He's also a person who suffered through a soul breaking life.

Langhorne and Bédard have PICAs hidden away underneath the Zion Temple
Those are the power sources that Merlin detected long ago and that have worried him ever since.

Langhorne and Bédard, not wanting a silly mortal thing like death to take away their divine status, downloaded their personalities into PICAs like Nimue and placed them into hibernation underneath the temple in Zion.


They didn't awaken after the real folks' deaths because of their egos: The PICAs are kept in hibernation until a major crisis, such as the current schism with Charis, requires their awakening (see the WMG below this one). So, Langhorne and Bedard awaken, smite the heretics like Big Damn Heroes, and permanently cement their divine status among the residents of Safehold. Emphasis on permanent, since PICAs are effectively immortal.

  • But Zion and the Temple were built after Commodore Pei blew Langhorne and Bédard into radioactive dust. If the surviving members of the Operation Ark command team had PICA backups for Langhorne and Bédard, why didn't they activate them right away?
  • The temple was built on the same location as Operation Ark's original base. PICAs belonging to members of Ark could easily be there. They weren't activated right away because the surviving "Archangels" didn't know about them.
    • Another reason they wouldn't be activated right away: Langhorne and his followers couldn't break the PICA 10-day activation limit like Nimue's group could. If Langhorne did ever return, then it would be only for ten days, making it useful for only the direst of emergencies.
      • The problem with the idea they couldn't break the activation limit is that Nimue's group did it in a few weeks, while Langhorne and Bedard's group would have had nearly a century to break the lock (10 years in hyper + 20-30 while Shan-wei terraformed + 60 from creation until they died). Langhorn was insane, not stupid. Hell, as the colony leaders they probably could have gotten the Terran government to make a special exemption and gotten themselves 1 or 2 PICAs without the limit under the justification of having permanent advisers for the colony. They didn't have any problems about lying to the government about their intentions in other things after all.
  • Word of Weber, or at least word of Barnes & Noble is that Merlin will learn what's underneath the temple in How Firm A Foundation.
    • And this is highly implied, if not stated outright to be the case in book 5, with a strong possibility that said PICAs will be activated in roughly twenty years.
      • Book Five also addresses the above issue about whether or not Langhorne and the rest could have broken the ten day limit, as it seems that the one who did it for Merlin himself was particularly knowledgeable in that field. There's no concrete certainty on it, but alternate ways around the limit are suggested.
      • Book 10 ends with the so called 'Archangel's return' - Scheuler had a holographic image of himself appear in the Cathedral of Schueler in the Episcopate of Schueler in the Temple Lands to deliver a message and publish the Testimony of Schueler, his version of what happened in the War of the Fallen. No evidence yet as to if any of the other Archangels had anything like that set up, or if Schueler himself had any other messages, or if there is an AI behind the hologram (It made an oblique reference that suggested it was aware of the Jihad).
      • I interpreted that as being the next phase of the Good Guys' plan to undermine the Church and break the medieval stasis. Remember, the "divine" signs are nothing more than Federation tech.... And Merlin has access to that

About the Key.
  • The Key awakens the Langhorne and Bédard PICAs: Samyl Wylsynn revealed in By Heresies Distressed that his son Paityr has a "key" that could be used to do something big. Since we saw Paityr and his "truthstone" in Off Armageddon Reef, it's not hard to believe that he has some more Lost Technology of his own. That "key" is the means to revive the above-mentioned PICAs of Langhorne and Bédard. On the other hand...
    • The Key activates the Rakurai: If ever the Church had a weapon of last resort, then that is it.
    • Rhobair Duchairn now has the "Key" as well. It has to be part of what Hauwerd Wylsynn passed Duchairn.
      • According to Paityr Wylsynn in How Firm A Foundation, and elaborated on by Merlin, the Key is a device easily mistaken for, and used as, a paperweight which, when combined with the Stone of Schueler he has already, provides "Visions" (i.e. holograms), among which is a message from Schueler himself. The message provides information on the chamber under the temple, among other revelations. It also can be used inside the Temple to activate a weapon that is only to be used against a great threat to the Church, as it can only be fired once. This is quite possibly the Rakurai, though whether the one shot limit is due to the weapon, the Key, or just something Schueler said to make sure his descendents didn't fire it wastefully is not said.
  • The huge encrypted file in the Stone of Schueler contains the backed-up personalities of Shan-wei and as many of the other "fallen" archangels as Schuler could get his hands on.

    This is Schueler's "Plan B." If the Church proved able to maintain the Medieval Stasis of Langhorne's plan, then Schueler was willing to let that happen. But if the Church were to become unable to do so, then Schueler wanted the original plan for the colony to be re-instituted. Putting the virtual personalities of Shan-wei et. al. in charge of the Temple, with all its high tech capabilities, was Schueler's contingency plan for doing this.

In the Grand Finale, OWL will use the Rakurai will be used to finish off the the Gbaba
It is a nigh-indestructible weapons platform that can be activated at will by anyone with the right passwords and that can probably be turned toward something outside the planet.
  • Also, it would be awesome.
  • It would also make no sense. The Gbaba destroyed the entire Terran Federation, including Earth. That's the premise. They are too big a menace to be threatened by a single planet's worth of orbital weapons. They'll just launch a volley of WMDs at the planet on a ballistic course from beyond the range of the Rakurai platforms.
  • Rakurai is only nigh-invincible because Merlin and Owl don't have enough Dakka to get through it's defenses and no way to get more currently. Additionally, it's basically just a giant asteroid launcher, most of it's power comes from Safehold's gravity. If the Gbaba get close enough for it to be used as a weapon against them, humanity is screwed.
  • Correction, then: It will fire off the final shot.

Siddarmark has an equivalent to the Brotherhood of St. Zherneau
Republic style government, leaders work for better human rights and to listen to the people, and it's been implied the only reason it's not on Charis's side is their populace wouldn't support them. It's founders could have easily modeled it on the Terran Federation. Siddarmark built up its pikemen (largest army on the planet remember) for the same reason Charis built up it's navy, protection from the temple in the inevitable conflict.
  • Zherneau mentioned in his letter that there were others like him, but he didn't know where they were sent or if they even survived Langhorne's attack.
  • Also take into account Clyntahn's automatic suspicion of all things Siddarmarkian. Whatever else he may be, Clyntahn's instincts have thus far led him to be Properly Paranoid where this sort of thing is concerned.

Merlin will make use of the Rakurai.
It is activated by large energy signatures. It might be as simple as creating an electro-magnetic pulse near the desired target.

The fleet sent on Operation Breakaway survived.
Realistically, there's no way Safehold could advance to the point of being able to defeat the Gbaba - when the Terran Federation couldn't - without outside assistance. Therefore, Weber will introduce a Terran faction that has managed to survive this long, and that has a way to defeat the Gbaba. However, they lack the necessary numbers. That is what Safehold will provide. And who better than the Breakaway fleet?
  • Though the Federation thought they weren't too far away from technological superiority (so numbers wouldn't be as big a factor) and the Gbaba probably won't have advanced much. Earth started with one planet and didn't have a PICA to kickstart the whole process of development. Given (lots of) time Safehold could do it too. Plus, the entire point of the operation was to convince the Gbaba that they'd destroyed the entire fleet. If the fleet had survived Breakaway, the Gbaba would keep hunting until they found them, possibly finding Safehold in the process.
    • My thinking is that the Breakaway fleet has been running all this time. They drew the Gbaba away from the region containing Safehold, and have been leading them around the galaxy in a zany chase for eight hundred years. Unlikely, but possible.

Schueler had a Heel–Face Turn.
Whether it was an My God, What Have I Done? moment when he saw what his Order had become or would potentially turn into, or if he was turned by Shan-wei against Langhorne, or both, Schueler the man turned against Langhorne's grand plan in the end. Potential foreshadowing comes from A Mighty Fortress when Merlin annoyingly wonders, in regards to the Order of Bédard, why the original villains of the piece can't remain so. There's also the fact that the only known piece of pre-Creation technology other than Merlin that's outside of Church control is Paityr Wylsynn's Stone of Schueler. Speaking of the Wylsynns, Hauwerd remembers his brother telling him that there was a legend that said the Wylsynn clan, long-time advocates of reform, was descended from Schueler himself. He could well have been the Duchairn of his group, understanding they were wrong but ultimately powerless to actually stop it.
  • Not necessarily powerless. The entire Book of Schueler could be a Batman Gambit. The punishments laid out in the book are horrific enough to sicken many people who watch them carried out. Perhaps Schueler realized this and wrote the book that way deliberately. People being people, someone would eventually go overboard carrying those instructions out, and people would be horrified enough to begin questioning the church. And remember that Commodore Pei mentioned that one other knew of his plan. That one other might've been Schueler.
    • Unlikely. Commodore Pei told Nimue that the 'one other' was coming with him to the meeting which ended with Pei blowing up Langhorne. Schueler is known to have survived that as it was he and Chihiro who led the Church afterwards.
  • How Firm a Foundation suggests that Schueler may never have written the Book of Schueler at all. It was instead someone else's work attributed to him. The messages Paityr Wylsynn describes paint him as the kind of Archangel the Wylsynns would have every reason to revere.
  • Through Fiery Trials ends with Schueler performing a posthumous 'miracle' in which he denounces the Book of Chihiro and releases his own history of what happened in the war.

Earth survived
And there were forty one other secret projects running in parallel to the Safehold project. All forty two of them being released simultaneously during the siege of Earth.

Owl's developing AI is the result of human interaction
  • In A Mighty Fortress, the artificial intelligence Merlin was promised Owl would develop finally began to stir. This is after three and a half books and about two or three years. The most likely trigger: Bringing more people into the Inner Circle. Owl's AI began to develop because he finally began interacting with actual human beings as opposed to a PICA. The reason this is significant is because we saw, via Paityr Wylsynn's Stone of Schueler, that Old Earth tech could differentiate between a living human and a PICA. What reason is there Owl couldn't do the same and, as a result, never developed the AI that comes with interacting with human operators because, as far as Owl ever realized, he never was interacting with a human operator.
  • I find it more likely that Owl's developing AI is the result of having more people to talk to. Weber's made a point of having Merlin's humanity confirmed in a spiritual sense; I don't think he'd undermine one of his own themes that way.
    • My thinking isn't so much the result of Merlin not being human in the moral sense. But that his lack of humanity in the physical sense is the issue.
    • It might be something more along the lines of training. Nimue has years of experience with computers like OWL, and therefore Merlin knows how to phrase commands and instructions to get it to do what he wants. The others who start talking to OWL don't have that training, so the computer will have to learn how to interpret what they're asking it to do, rather than just following Merlin's instructions, which fall into—or close enough to—its' normal input parameters that it doesn't have to develop new ways to deal with them.
  • Midst Toil of Tribulation ends up confirming this and making it a bit Right for the Wrong Reasons. Merlin got it started with the various tasks assigned to Owl, but what really woke up Owl's AI is relative weeks worth of continuous contact with Prince Nahrmahn. Merlin even acknowledges that he never had the time to just sit down and just talk with Owl.

The Rakurai will destroy Zion
Someone, be it pro or antagonist, will discover how to launch the Rakurai and use it. The end result will be that the Rakurai hits the Temple Lands and destroys Zion. What better way to truly destroy the Church of God Awaiting than to have its capitol destroyed by what Safeholdians believe to be God's ultimate weapon? It could even help pave the way for the worldwide revelation about the truth of Langhorne.
  • If this happens, it's far more likely to be the antagonists who trigger it accidentally than the protagonists. It would kill at least hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of civilians so Staynair would vote against it on humanitarian grounds. Merlin, Cayleb and Sharleyan would probably vote no for the same reason. The only person on the protagonist side likely to do it is Peityr Wylsynn, but that would require him to disappear to the temple to use his key, assuming that's what the key even is.
    • Even disregarding the humanitarian grounds, Merlin wouldn't allow it because it would make his job of subverting the Church much harder. Rakurai obviously existing would reinforce the religion in virtually everyone who doesn't know the truth. Most of the planet would view it as God came in and annihilated the corrupt priests in Zion who used his name for their own evil ends. GO GOD! GO LANGHORNE!
      • What? Some of the Charisians are claiming Langhorn lied and Shan-wei was good? But Rakurai is REAL and God and Langhorn use it to kill the worst of all sinners! Obviously Langhorn didn't lie and Shan-wei was evil. WE MUST WAR AGAINST THESE NEW HERETICS IN CHARIS!
      • That makes absolutely no sense. Merlin isn't trying to deny the existence of either the Archangels or Rakurai. The documentary evidence for their historical presence is too vast to wave away. On Safehold not believing in their existence would be like someone now not believing the Roman Empire really existed. And even aside from his desire to be truthful, convincing everyone the Rukurai didn't exist at all would have some dire consequences down the road. The only reason not to use the Rakurai on Zion would be because of the number of innocents who would be killed, and because when the truth about the Rakurai came out and they could no longer blame it on God they would have to admit that they'd intentionally murdered all those innocents just to get at the group of four.
      • He isn't in the short term, but that's more a tactical necessity than anything else. His long term goal is to return humanity to a technological society and teach them the truth about history. That will of necessity include teaching them the truth about both the Archangels (they existed but they were humans, not angels) and the Rakurai (it's just dropping rocks at very high speeds). Using the Rakurai before people have the chance to understand at least the basic physics behind it would have exactly the opposite effect, reinforcing belief in divine intervention from the heavens.

Nimue/Merlin will return to a female form on a part time basis in the not to distant future
As of A Mighty Fortress occasional use a PICA's ability to alter its appearance to a limited extent is being used to create the appearance of a network of seijin of whom Merlin is merely the public face. While this is useful primarily to avoid rumours of Merlin being in two places at the same time (or at least moving faster than possible with the normal means of transport available on Safehold) it strikes me as the perfect opportunity to engage in a bit of social engineering and help establish a precedent for greater gender equality in the form of one or more female seijin running around.
  • Semi-confirmed. In book seven, Owl builds a second PICA, which takes on the Nimue identity, via a back-up of her personality. She'll probably be used to run all the female seijin identities.
    • She pretty much has to, since Merlin is so ridiculously tall. Some Safeholdian men approach his height, but the women don't come close so he'd be super conspicuous as a woman. Since the one thing PICA can't change is their height, he makes the second PICA match the average height of a Safeholdian so that Nimue can pose as a man or a woman.

Admiral Thirsk will be assassinated by someone under his command for supposed Charisian sympathies
The series is basically the Thirty Years' War IN SPACE!, and Thirsk is pretty similar to Albrecht von Wallenstein.
  • There's a faked attempted assassination. The person doing it claims to be a Charisian spy but is actually trying to save Thirsk's family from the Inquisition. When he realizes that the Inquisition is onto him he non-fatally shoots Thirsk before killing himself in order to avoid having the Inquisition realize that Thirsk was also involved. It Makes Sense in Context.

According to Word of God, a named character will be Killed Off for Real in book 5. Who's most likely to kick the bucket, why are they, and how will it happen?
  • Since it was said to be a character he liked, and the tone of the tweet was that it wasn't a nice way to die, there's a couple of obvious possiblities.
    • Admiral Thirsk, he's unpopular with Clynthn and hated by the man in charge of his navy who's name I can't remember, and other nobles in his kingdom who don't like his growing power. Being brought up on heresy charges because of other nobles bribes to the inquisition is possible.
    • Earl Coris, he already heavily suspects the Church was behind Hectors assassination. Finding proof of this then getting killed by church loyalists is likely, though I can't come up with a situation where Irys and Daivyn aren't arrested immediately as well.
    • Princess Irys, the biggest trait she's had in the series is she doesn't change her mind on something once she's decided on it. If Coris finds proof of the church's involvement in Hectors death, it's entirely possible she may not believe it, Coris and Daivyn barely escape after she reports him. Without anyone else to make an example of, Clyntahn has her arrested and executed for her families 'heresy'.
    • Prince Daivyn, Coris finds evidence, etc. Daivyn is killed, but Irys manages to avoid execution due to being a girl. She escapes back to Charis, blah, blah blah.
    • Archbishop Cahnyr, he's loved by his archbishopric, which is a part of Siddarmark. If the inquisition finds him, his death could send Siddarmark into open alliance with Charis.
      • Problem with this is that Cahnyr may well be in the Empire of Charis now. He certainly seems to have been the senior member of the Circle to have survived.
      • He never says he's on his way to Charis, the only end destination he gives is Siddar City. Given Siddar City is a port, he was probably planning initially to go to Charis, but at the end of his chapter he learns about a fairly large support network for him in Glacier heart, set up by Ahnzelyk Phonda. I think he's more likely to stay in Siddarmark and try to turn the country against the temple. From a purely storytelling point of view, he's a completely pointless character if the only thing he does is escape to Charis. There's been several of those, but all of them did more than just go there.
    • King Gorjah, Clyntahn already suspects him, and he's probably going to be a major character in Foundation.
    • Cayleb, killed in the book's final battle, time skip of 10-20 year between Foundation and book 6. Book 6 focuses on Princess Alahnah and the next step in getting Safehold back in space. Would require Clyntahn to die and Duchairn to become Grand Vicar and recognize the schism to justify such a skip (a fair trade?)
    • Duncan Yairley. He's Hektor Aplyn-Ahrmahk's mentor and is a fairly important named character outside the main protagonists. Also, in some of the released snippets from How Firm A Foundation, his ship is apparently going to get into a major storm and possibly crash. Getting captured by the Church could fit right in there, with Hektor stepping up into his place.
    • There's plenty of minor characters that could die, like Kynt Clareyk.
      • The implication behind a "named character" being offed is that said character will not be either a red- or mauve shirt. Though someone might wind up joining the main cast only to die.
      • A Mighty Fortress does begin with Kynt Clareyk promoted to second-in-command of the new Imperial Army, with Merlin considering bringing him into the inner circle, so he specifically seems susceptible.
  • Turns out it's among others, Gray Harbor and Nahrmahn in the attacks by the Rakurai group, and Gwylym Manthyr, in Zion.

Commodore Pei mentions in his last message to Nimue that one other knew of the backup plan (i.e. Nimue's PICA). Who was it? And will it matter at all?
  • It has to be one of the "Angels" or "Archangels", but so far the only members of that group who have received more than a passing mention—and aren't named Langhorne, Bédard, or Pei—are Schueler and Chihiro. And Chihiro wrote most of the Writ.
    • I'm inclined towards thinking that it was one of the unnamed ones. The Commodore's message implies that the one other who knows is coming with him on his suicide mission (he says something like "and we both have an appointment") which would seem to rule out Schueler. While we don't know for sure the fact that Schueler was credited with the Book of Schueler after Shan-Wei's rebellion would suggest both that he survived the war and was loyal to Langhorne (or at least convinced everyone that he was loyal).
  • As for "will it matter" - the fact that the predicted time of the Archangels' return, so very close to Nimue's own awakening, can't be a coincidence. Who knows, maybe the awakening was planned to assist Nimue's mission!
  • Given that Schueler posthumously publishes his own history of the War at the end of Through Fiery Trials, through a miracle in which he denounces Chihiro's condemnation of Shan-Wei as an outright lie, it may be him.

Clyntahn will violate the Proscriptions first.
While the Inner Circle has done their level best to dance around the proscriptions, even after Father Paityr helps them run Loophole Abuse. Clyntahn's a self-delusional hypocrite. Despite toppling the Proscriptions of Jwo-Jeng being the protagonists' stated goal, there's a legitimate chance Clyntahn will be the one to openly violate them first. All in the name of God and protecting Mother Church from filthy heretics, of course.
  • This is supported by the conversation Merlin and Cayleb had after Cayleb got let in on Merlin's secrets, about defeating the Church by forcing them to change their belief structure.

Duchairn will be the next Grand Vicar.
Nobody in the Vicarate likes Clyntahn, especially after what he did to the Circle, but nobody dares openly act against him for fear of the same happening to them. But Duchairn has been passively defying the Grand Inquisitor, openly disapproving of his actions by conspicuously refusing to do anything that might be seen as tacitly approving of them. Between that and his newfound interest in good works, he's slowly gaining public approval. The Inquisition is watching Duchairn to ensure he can't build an open power base to oppose the rest of the Group of Four, but the death of a Grand Vicar can completely rearrange the political playing field. Duchairn could find himself chosen to replace the politically irrelevant Erek by all the Vicars who approve of his opposition to Clyntahn and use the power base of all the people who supported his elevation to stomp Trynair and Clyntahn flat.
  • A potential Chekhov's Gun to help with this: Duchairn is currently being "protected" by the Temple Guard, whom he assumes are also spying on him for Clyntahn. We know, however, that his head guard is in fact the captain who killed Hauwerd... who happens to be honest and genuinely devoted to his duty and his faith. This has potential...
    • Hauwerd does mention having a "friend in the guard" to Samyl. Also, the fact that said captain (who does have a name which escapes me at the moment) killed Hauwerd instead of capturing him so he could be put to the question suggests that he was on Hauwerd's side. In addition, said duel to the death was fought in full view of a large number of Temple Guardsmen, who then went on to quietly spread the tale of Hauwerd's last stand. The entire situation went as perfectly as Hauwerd could have asked for, so it's not too much of a stretch to believe he planned it.
      • Additionally, thanks to the captain's service to the Inquisition in apprehending Hauwerd, said captain was made the leader of Duchairn's guard detail. And Hauwerd knew that Duchairn was the last, most desperate hope of defeating Clyntahn they had now that the Circle was about to be massacred.
    • Semi-confirmed. Duchairn, with the help of Hauwerd's backup Helm Cleaver network (of which the head of Duchairn's guard detail is a member), launches a coup to overthrow the Inquisition and becomes Grand Vicar. So while he gets the job, it's not due to an election.

Merlin's "personal project" with the VR unit involves resurrecting Nahrmahn
The silver mesh device he put over his head on his death bed wasn't just to reduce pain and wake him up so he could say goodbye to Ohlyvya. It was also scanning his brain for use in a VR or PICA. The VR unit Merlin has Owl working on is supposed to be able to support a couple people, so he can use it to boot up a copy of Nahrmahn as well as providing a backup for himself. And if the copy doesn't suffer from Merlin's inability to do high speed downloads of data...
  • Confirmed

Something's hidden at Armageddon Reef.
One of Cayleb's ships, the Wyvern, goes flat-out missing during the battle of Crag Rock. Poof, gone, not a hint of wreckage or crew to be found... not even by Merlin's satellite reconnaissance. Suggesting that there's something in the area that is invisible to satellites. Perhaps Chihiro and Schueler were right about the military personnel of Operation Ark being less than pleased about Shan-wei's fate, even after Langhorne met the pocket-nuke.

The power signatures under the Temple include some kind of weapon intended to be a last-ditch defense against the Gbaba.
After all, they couldn't be certain the Gbaba would never catch up...
  • Related: The Holy War is derailed when someone does wake up all those power sources under the Temple... which proceed to catch a Gbaba scout ship's attention. Cue a desperate scramble to take it out before it can report back, where Merlin, who has been playing second fiddle militarily all this time, gets to demonstrate why Nimue was considered a tactical genius in spaceship battles.

Marrying off Irys and Daivyn.
So Irys and Daivyn are safely headed to Charis and it seems likely that they will eventually swear allegiance to Charis (since the Church will no doubt kill them either way, they might as well throw in with Charis). When that happens it seems likely that Cayleb and Sharleyan will arrange political marriages for one or both of them to tie their families together. With that in mind I see a few possibilities:
  • Irys and Nahrmahn Jr. This is a reasonably logical pairing, they are of similar ages and Nahrmahn Jr. is one of the most important nobles in the Empire.
  • Irys and Hektor Aplyn-Ahrmahk. This would have the advantage of tying Irys directly to the royal family while also keeping her out of the succession (since she's very ruthless when she decides to be which makes her a potential risk).
    • Also, it's entirely possible they'll get to like each other on the trip from Delferahk back to Charis.
    • Well this WMG has been confirmed.
  • Daivyn and Zhanayt Ahrmahk. Again, relatively similar in ages (I think) and it would tie the Prince of Corisande to the Imperial Family. Additionally, this possibility was alluded to in an earlier book where Sharleyan mentioned that it would probably be necessary to marry Cayleb's sister off to whomever they ended up putting in charge of Corisande. Given that Daivyn is probably a better match for her than many of the other candidates (he seems like a nice young man).
  • Daivyn and Alahnah. A very wide age difference, although not unreasonable compared to some political marriages in history. I think it's unlikely just because of the squick it would cause for modern readers but it is a valid option.
    • This is probably less likely than the other possibilities offered here, since Daivyn is the only possibility for Prince of Corisande, while Alahnah is currently the sole possible heir to the imperial crown of Charis.
      • It is mentioned that Anvil Rock, Tartarian, and Coris are planning to quietly change the succession laws to allow women to inherit the throne of Corisande in their own right.

What stories was Merlin telling Daivyn?
It's not specified in the text, but it's supposed to be fantastical fairy tales that Irys had never heard before.
  • The Hobbit, perhaps?
  • Maybe some classic fairytales a la the Grimm Brothers?

The Safehold series tells the story of how the 4th Imperium came to be in David Weber's Empire from the Ashes series
  • The 4th Imperium is described as having been founded on a single planet that was "missed" during a genocidal visit by the Achuultani. It might be possible that their survival was the result of Operation Ark and would also bolster the theory as to why Safehold has managed to stay unnoticed for so long.
    • But the Achuultani are so paranoid they hit even the dinosaurs, so a lush planet like Safehold would probably be a target, emissions or no.
      • Not necessarily. The Achuultani don't have enough ships to check every single star. They do check a few stars at random (presumably the ones that are conveniently spaced for hyperspace jumps) but they mostly rely on picking up signals from civilizations to give them targets. They wiped out the dinosaurs but they were only in the system because there was a military base on a world in between Mars and Jupiter (which they destroyed). If that hadn't drawn them to Sol then they wouldn't have found the Dinosaurs.
    • In the Empire from the Ashes series, humans did not originate on earth, and the series begins around 2020 (or some other 20 minutes into the future). Safehold begins later than that, with humans from earth colonizing outward.
  • Fun idea, but impossible. Merlin is constantly referring to Earth history as we know it, which means it must take place in the future, not the past.
    • On the other hand, since Safehold is an Expy of that one planet from Empire from the Ashes, I wouldn't be surprised if they founded an expy of the 4th Imperium. It would almost certainly be a continuation of the Empire of Charis.

Father Zhon and his fellow Pasqualates will face the Punishment and cause Archbishop Zagyrsk to pull a Heel–Face Turn
  • Some background: These characters and events are all from book 6, Midst Toil and Tribulation. At the end of a particularly bloody and one-sided battle, Colonel Sir Naythyn Byrgair decides to order Father Zhon Blhakyt and his healer's to Mercy Kill the enemy survivors to spare them the Punishment of Scheuler. Both he and the priest realize that if the Inquisition discovers that he gave the order, Byrgair will face the Punishment himself.
  • Elsewhere in the book we meet Archbishop Arthyn Zagyrsk of Tarikah. He's also from the Order of Pasquale, which is noted to be unusual for an archbishop. And despire being stationed in Siddarmark, his Inquisition Intendant Father Ignaz Aimaiyr is a decent human being and not a zealot. He believes the Punishment is a harsh necessity but he abhors the rampant violence.
    • My theory is that the Inquisition will put Father Zhon and the other healers to the Punishment, whether they include Sir Byrgair or not. This act will cause serious PR problems for Clyntahn for all but the most mindlessly fanatic. Archbishop Zagyrsk, as a fellow Pasqualate, will be particularly horrified and at least be tempted to switch sides. His secretary Father Avry Pygain or even Father Ignaz may join him.
      • Bonus points if Zhevon or one of Aivah's agents helps him escape to Republic territory.
  • Jossed, although Archbishop Arthyn does have a Heel–Face Turn.

The other nations will start making new technology that Charis didn't see coming
  • Up till now, the nations have been replicating Charisian advances, but not really come up with anything new of their own, even if it's inferior to anything Charis has been making. Sooner or later however, they'll start making revolutionary advances of their own. How the Church reacts to it will form another degree of conflict.
    • Confirmed, much to Merlin's chagrin, since his mission requires him to encourage that sort of thinking.

Paityr Wylsynn will succeed Maikel Staynair as Archbishop
  • Depending on whether Staynair is killed in office or retires in the future, it may or may not be quite the elevation. However, several parallels between Father Paityr and Archbishop Maikel suggest that he would be the ideal successor. Even if he assumed the role young, his reputation for honesty and integrity would win him through. His access to the Inner Circle doesn't hurt either.
    • As of Book 10, Paityr's a bishop. No mention whether he's in a pastoral role or busy running the Church of Charis' Schuelerites, but he's got the rank to be a candidate for Archbishop.

The Temple in Zion is equipped with a device that can attract the Gbaba to Safehold
  • At first glance, this seems ridiculous, as it runs counter to everything Operation Ark stood for. Looked at from the viewpoint of self-righteous megalomaniacs like Langhorne and Bédard, it can make a disturbing amount of sense. The "Archangels" believed that the Gbaba were divine punishment for mankind's hubris in reaching for the stars. Their plan to resolve this was to permanently keep humanity in Medieval Stasis with a plan to check back after a long period of time. Merlin wondered why they would wait so long. The reason is this: If, after a thousand years, humans are still in the Safehold they envisioned, then all was good and humanity was safe. If, after a thousand years, humanity still sought the kind of technological marvels they felt brought forth the Gbaba in the first place, better to just bring them down on mankind now and get it over with. After all, if their plan for the salvation of the human race failed, it's too far gone to matter at that point.

Clyntahn is a descendant of Langhorne and/or Bédard
  • Similar to how the Wylsynn's are descended from Archangel Schueler, Clyntahn is or believes he is a descendant of Langhorne and/or Bédard. This is why he is so certain he can do no wrong—he has the blood of the two greatest archangels, it is literally impossible for him to be anything but righteous and perfect.
    • This could be a delusion that sprung up out of nowhere, or perhaps the secret of his bloodline was passed down through his family, like the Wylsynn's. It's also possible that some sort of artifact or agenda was passed down as well.

Clyntahn knows the true history of Safehold
  • Zhaspahr Clyntahn actually has some knowledge about the true nature of Safehold. Contrary to the protagonists, however, Clyntahn has chosen to enforce the Medieval Stasis rather than rally against it.

The potential reasons why are various:

  • Like Maikel Staynair, he struggled with and eventually rediscovered his faith. However, his renewed faith has led him to believe Safehold remain in its current state for its own good. The main idea against this is that Clyntahn's willing to write free passes around the Proscriptions to allow the Church to work out the same technologies as Charis.
  • Alternatively, this knowledge caused him to Go Mad from the Revelation and he's in a massive state of denial.
  • He could also have a distorted version of events. A "True History" such as humans were brought to Safehold in an ark following its near-destruction by Divine Judgement (the Gbaba).
  • Any of these would go along way towards explaining his Up to Eleven zealotry, as he's privy to information that nobody else knows. Information they can't know, leaving him the only one able to act on it. Would certainly play to his megalomaniac side. This response would also further the foil/antithesis nature between himself and Staynair.
  • Possible evidence to this theory is in that Paityr Wylsynn, when being inducted into the Inner Circle, revealed that his father was afraid someone outside the family had discovered the existence of the Key and the Stone of Schueler. Clyntahn is the most likely suspect among known characters, and if he knows of the stone and wants it, it's possible he knows something of its nature. Even if it's simply as a Repository of Visions like the Wylsynns believed.

It's also telling that we rarely see a scene with Clyntahn as the POV character. Most scenes with Clyntahn are filtered through another character (Trynair, Duchairn, Wyllym Rayno). Scenes with Clyntahn as POV character can probably be counted on one hand, and typically don't go into a lot of detail on his innermost thoughts.

  • One thing that might support this is that the Inquisition does apparently have access to at least some "divine artifacts". Specifically they have a device that can be used to override the locks of any door in the temple and there are also rumors that they have an artifact (presumably a computer of some type) that can be used to break any code devised. The idea of some extra artifacts or information passed solely from one Grand Inquisitor to the next isn't unreasonable. About the only thing we can be semi-sure about is that they probably don't have an equivalent of the Key since there's no way Clyntahn wouldn't use it.

Jossed in At the Sign of Trimph. In the book's finale, Clyntahn is arrested and set to be executed. His attempts to remain Defiant to the End crumble when Merlin and Nimue show him archive footage of the "archangels".

The Key of Schueler is meant to be used to stop whatever's under the Temple.
  • This would require that Schueler was, at least at the end, one of the good guys. I'm also assuming that whatever's under there is going to look at the state of Safehold's technology and decide whether or not to murder everyone based on how well they're following the Proscriptions. It might exterminate humanity if the technology has spread too much.
  • The Key is meant to be used in the church's "greatest hour of need." Schueler probably figured that by the thousand year mark (especially if he knew about Nimue), humanity would have gone too far past the Proscriptions and that whatever is under the Temple would decide that humanity has gone too far and exterminate everybody. The Key is meant to shut down the doomsday weapon permanently, via a back door that Schueler snuck into it.
    • If the thing under the Temple is a weapon that doesn't think for itself, this theory could still work. Remember Scheuler's message to his descendants about how it was their duty to keep Mother Church good and pure? Well, the reason he was worried about that was because the weapon, when it showed up, would be placed into the hands of the heads of the church. And if those people were corrupt, they would ultimately do the Gbaba's job for them.
    • Also, the church's "greatest hour of need" to the Wylsynns would be when it was in danger of sullying itself forever with something like, say, mass murder as the push of a button. They would then use the Key to disable the weapon, same as above.

Schueler was just like Duchairn
  • In terms of Character Development. They both started out firmly in the bad guy camp, but then some great travesty commited by their allies convinced them that they should work against them. Not openly, but they began to work on their own agenda quietly. It's not clear in either case whether they changed their minds completely or if they're only taking issue with their side's methods but not their goals. Also, they're both playing the long game.
    • Bonus points if Duchairn is also a descendant of Schueler's, which is pretty even odds considering how many people must be his descendants by now.
    • More bonus points if it's Duchairn who winds up using the Key of Schueler in the Temple.
      • That last bit ends up impossible, since he dies of a heart attack early in book 10. That same book also has Schueler staging a posthumous miracle to publish his own memoirs about the War, which might provide more character explanation.

Harchong is going to suffer a peasant uprising
  • It has been mentioned multiple times across several books that the Harchong peasants are brutally oppressed and the Harchong nobility is eternally in fear of them revolting. It has also been said several time that peasant rebellions are the only thing worse than a religious war. With that much foreshadowing it seems inevitable that one will eventually happen.
    • As of the end of Like a Mighty Army, the Harchongese army has transformed from a joke to the biggest threat facing the army of Charis. If Charis ends up in a tough spot they may end up sending troops or some kind of secret mission to Harchong to help instigate such an uprising in order to disrupt Harchong's economy and possibly force some of the army to be recalled to help put down the revolt. The results of that uprising will be as terrible as predicted, and will provide another round of dramatic angst for Merlin and the rest of the inner circle.
    • It's also mentioned that a major reason why previous rebellions failed was because the peasants don't know how to fight. With the rapid military expansion and new training programs, the Church may have just provided people with rebel sympathies the tools they need to start an uprising that has a chance of winning.
    • After the Jihad ends, it's mentioned that Harchong doesn't want the thousands of surviving combat-trained peasants coming back home for fear of a peasant uprising, though the question of what ultimately happens to them isn't answered by the end of book 9.
    • The peasant uprising starts about 50 pages into book 10.

Hanyk Rynhaard is going to have a long and very unpleasant visit by the Inquisition
  • In the very first book, mention is made that as part of Merlin's cover identity, his weapons were made with the proof marks of the famous swordsmith Hanyk Rynhaard, which explains why they are of a custom design and of incredibly high quality. There's one problem with this - Hanyk Rynhaard is Harchongese, and Harchong is aligned with the Temple. If Clyntahn learns of the proof marks on Merlin's katana, he'll have to assume that Hanyk knows Merlin - otherwise, how could the so-called seijin be wielding a custom-made Rynhaard sword? And why hasn't the man stepped forward and volunteered his insights on the man to the church before now? Of course, Merlin and Hanyk have never met, but do you really think the Inquisition will believe that?
    • Actually, they just might. Mind, the Inquisition condemned Merlin as a demon. Wouldn't it be fit for a demon to feign an acquittance with world-known swordsmith to gain more credibility in the eyes of Charisians? Also, there is a possibility that Rynhaard was dead shortly before the story started. One would think that Inquisitors would pay him a visit long ago.
    • Off Armageddon Reef refers to Rynhaard as "one of the legendary swordmakers of Harchong", which sounds to me like he's been dead for some time before Merlin first shows up with his "Rynhaard-made" swords. Presumably, anyone who recognizes the proof marks would assume they're heirloom blades.

Shan-wei was slated by Langhorne to be the Satan of Safehold
Langhorne and Bedard both knew that the religion they cultivated needed an evil figure to make their religion stick and Shan Wei fit the bill. It required some pretense, but the two of them always knew that eventually the Rakurai would need to come down on Shan Wei and her followers to finish that portion of the mythology.

Charlz Sheltyn is going to go over to the Inquisition
He was utterly disgraced by Nimue, is unlikely to get any sympathy from his fellow Guardsmen, and is even less likely to realize that his situation is his own fault. Clyntahn's people could easily offer to help him get revenge, or as he sees it, justice. Which could be a problem as he knows quite a bit about security arrangements in Manchyr.

The Church is going to face a financial crisis in book 10
The war may be over, so the costs of the Jihad have gone away, and there's no longer any naval blockade preventing Temple Loyalists from sending tithes to Zion. But a substantial majority of the people in the Empire of Charis aren't Temple Loyalists, so the sizes of those tithes are going to be much smaller. In addition, it looks like there are going to be more splinter churches forming in Siddermark and North Harchong, and people in other countries are now free to break from Mother Church and worship in one of the splinter churches as well, making even more of a drop in income.

On top of that, even though the ongoing expenses of the Jihad have gone away, the debts accrued from money already spent has not. And at least two of Duchairn's efforts to fund the Jihad are in a position to backfire now that the war is lost. First, he sold off virtually all church-owned properties in the Empire of Charis. Since Charis won the war, it's doubtful that the Church of Charis is going to honor those bills of sale. Second, he issued a large number of war bonds, to be paid back after Mother Church's victory. Some people might interpret that as 'end of the war', even though Zion lost, and seek reimbursement.

And on top of that, the value of the Church mark against everyone else's currency (but especially Charis') has been dropping like a rock for years.

  • Averted, it's actually Siddarmark that ends up with an economic crisis post-Jihad.

Merlin doesn't know it yet, but he has reinforcements coming
There's references in the later novels to the Angels and Servitors returning to the Dawn Star to leave Safehold after the War Against the Fallen ended. That's a strange phrasing for a population that doesn't have any concept of interplanetary travel, but would fit well with those people heading back to one of the transport ships. We know from Off Armageddon Reef that Hamilcar, Operation Ark's flagship, was kept in orbit around Safehold well into the colonization period, and was visible as a shining spot in the sky (much the way Venus is visible on Earth).

While Hamilcar was scheduled for destruction before the Alexandria Enclave got the Rakurai treatment, my guess is that it was too freaking useful once the War got underway. So, it was kept around, possibly to program the Church's seijins, possibly just as a source for "divine" weapons or battle gear, or medical treatment for the Angels. When the War ends, the surviving Archangels might not have had the capability to mind-wipe everyone who got a close look at those "divine" items, and letting them head home would risk contamination of Safehold with techie thoughts. But here's Hamilcar, just sitting in orbit with loads and loads of cryo units.

The power sources under the Temple include a comm unit that can reach Hamilcar. It might be set to call automatically at a given year, hence the millennial return belief, or could be triggered by something on the lines of the Key. Either way, just how happy are those people going to be when they learn what's been going on over the centuries, and how corrupt the Church they fought for became?

And remember, the original seijins were all born on Terra or her colonies, and had the necessary implants for NEAT usage. If Merlin gets hold of the comm first, all he has to do is ask Owl to send an update to the people in cryo.

  • Unlikely since Merlin states in one book that Cryo wouldn't have been able to keep someone alive for that length of time.

The first big cracks in the public's belief in the Holy Writ will come via astronomers
The Writ teaches a Ptolemaic view of the universe, where Safehold is at the centre of the universe and everything, including its sun Kau-zhu, revolves around it. Given the recent advances in technology, and since the Jihad is over, I can easily see some Charisian astronomers, possibly with some assistance from members of the Inner Circle, coming up with the idea of using telescopes for their observations and building a nice observatory. And, in real life, Galileo's observation of the phases of Venus was what led him to realize this was tangible proof that Earth orbits the Sun. So what do you think these hypothetical astronomers are going to do when they get their hypothetical observatory, start making observations, and find that what they see with their telescopes doesn't match up with the Holy Writ's description of the universe?
  • I can't find any references to other planets in the Safehold system, but there's those orbital-bombardment satellites up there. Since the Rakurai is supposed to be divine vengeance, odds are the satellites aren't included in the Writ's description of how the universe is put together. Imagine the reaction if someone from a coastal area of the main continent decides that detailed star charts will help his country match Charis' ability at navigation, builds an observatory (telescopes being allowed tech under the Writ), and finds them.

We will see Clyntahn's escape tunnel again.
Come on, a tunnel running from a hidden basement in the Temple to well outside the no-tech zone, and a very high chance that the only people alive at the end of Book 7 who know about it are Merlin and Nimue? Maybe it's not safe for either PICA to sneak in and see where the other end is, but one of the inner circle members could easily walk (or ride a bicycle) in. I think the series establishes that it would be safe to have a totally-passive sensor remote carried in and out, but if they don't want to take that chance there's such a thing as sketch pads and pencils.

Book 10 will start the Safeholdian Counter-Reformation
The series has pretty solidly established that reformist Grand Vicars don't have a long lifespan. The end of book 9 also establishes that North Harchong is blocking any and all Church reforms it thinks it can get away with blocking, so there's a nice core of "old Church" followers. Once Rhobair dies, from natural or "natural" causes, the clerics who want to go back to the old ways will have their opening.
  • Jossed — while Grand Vicar Rhobair dies in book 10, his successor vows to continue Rhobair's reforms and shows no sign of dying early. On the other hand, the Church in what's left of the Harchong Empire isn't even rejecting Zion's calls for reform any longer, they're just ignoring them — so the seeds of a Counter-Reformation are still present.

Book 10 will start with the Inner Circle publicly revealing the true history of Safehold
  • From a purely strategic point of view, there will never be a better time to do it. As of the end of Book 9, virtually every major authority figure in the Charisan Empire is a member of the Circle. If they all reveal at once, the Charisans will have nothing backing up Langhorne's lies. Meanwhile, the Charisans are probably at the strongest they will ever be (relative to the other nations) before the Proscriptions come down. Charis is scraping right up against the limit of what can be achieved without setting off the Rakurai platforms or publically breaking the Proscriptions, so they won't be getting much stronger. The rest of the world, though, will soon be catching up with them.
    • Averted, but it does end with the Archangel Schueler revealing at least some of it.

The Schueler who appeared at the end of Book 10 wasn't anything left by Schueler at all. It was cooked up by Nahrman and Owl as part of "Operation Androcles"
  • He makes reference to the Jihad, which the real Schueler wouldn't have had any way to know about if it was a recording made before he died and set to show at a certain time.
  • The biggest flaw to this theory is that it's more actively deceptive than the protagonists have ever really been. They've typically erred on the side of passivity, gradually removing the Archangels from the Church of Charis's prayers, for example. They've also done their best to keep relative innocents, like the cathedral's congregants, out of the line of fire where possible. Were this Narmahn and Owl acting on their own that would be one thing, but "Operation Androcles" was set in motion with the full knowledge of the entire Inner Circle and after, as far as they knew, the threat of imminent Archangel arrival had passed, meaning they had time to take it slow.
  • My interpretation is that he wasn't referring to the Jihad but to the War of the Fallen. It's just pure luck that his message arrived close enough to the end of the Jihad that people interpreted it as referring to the Jihad. If you pretend that the Jihad never happened and read his message in that context then it could easily be contrued as referirng to the War of the Fallen (albeit in a rather metaphorical way) it's just that since the Jihad only recently ended everyone assumes that he is referring to that. Another alternative is that the message was supposed to be played several centuries earlier and something went wrong.

Schueler sabotaged the Rakurai platforms.
  • The members of the inner circle have commented for the past several books on how very odd it is that the Rakurai platforms don't appear to have reacted to Safehold's increasing industrialization. Given that Schueler was apparently the head of the colony's security after Kau-Yung's sacrifice, he probably would have had the necessary access codes to reprogram the Rakurai platforms, removing any triggers that Langhorne programmed in there. And given that he apparently set up a time-delay message to reveal the truth of Safehold, I think it's safe to say that he was of Shan-wei's party by the end.


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