Finally, it finished. This volume took me much longer than I had planned, since I had originally hoped to finish this before at the end of October last year. So in that regard I’m almost half a year late… (sigh). This is partially due to the fact I had several major projects at work which really drained me, and partly because the task was simply greater than I had thought.
But I certainly can’t regret the results.
The rewritten volume 2 has a lot more content than I had planned. With 20 regular chapters plus 2 interlude chapters, the rewritten version is 4 chapters longer than the original version, and features many more reworked scenes than I had anticipated. It really made me notice where my expectations and tastes have changed. For example, I no longer feel the urge to inject humor as much as possible, especially in scenes that harbor a serious demand for gravitas. Similarly, good planning and deduction has taken a much bigger role than action, especially in the various diplomatic and military discussion scenes.
The rewritten volume 2 also has much more focus.
One of the biggest problems with the old volume 2 was that it was very much an intermediary volume without a strong focus of its own. Much of the story was centered around Kaede trying to get acquainted with her new life, to manage new relationships (particularly with Sylviane) and reflect upon how her interests in life are much more important than the sex of the body she inhibit. However this isn’t something that could be ‘answered’ within a single volume. It’s an ongoing process that will span the forseeable future of the story. As a result it doesn’t have a ‘conclusion’, and it certainly had almost nothing to do with the climactic battle and concluding chapters of the story.
This created a divergence between the character development and the main conflict that created a lot of problems.
I don’t think the rewrite ‘fixes’ this problem entirely, but it does help shift the focus. Kaede reflecting upon her old life and growing accustomed to her new life is still a big part of the volume. However the main focus of the new volume 2’s story is Pascal.
It started from Sylv’s recollections on how they met, to his promise to Sylv at the end. From having to manage tensions created by the third wheel in their relationship, to coming to grips with the death of his father, to finding his own role in a world spiraling into conflict, the rewritten volume 2 has really become a character arc for Pascal. And in many ways this was the intention I had originally — the conviction he achieves at the end of 2nd volume is what allowed Pascal to weather the storm in 3rd volume and keep going even when everything was falling apart around him.
I once joked that volume 2 was always about ‘grinding for experience’. But just because the character are here to power-level doesn’t mean they don’t grow. Volume 2 is really where Pascal evolves from being a learner to being a leader, where he learns to grasp the responsibilities and repercussions of his decisions.
…And in my opinion, the rewrite does this so much better than the original.
What do you think? I’d be happy to hear the thoughts of the readers.
At the same time, I will be progressing towards 3rd volume, which was really the headache that contributed the most to making me drop Daybreak back in the day. I do feel like some of my problems have been resolved already — Alistair and Vivi have already been introduced in one way or another, so they won’t feel like they dropped out of nowhere. Reynaud and Perceval are both positioned to take a much greater role, and Gerard will actually get scenes this time (when I wrote the original I badly needed an engineer, but didn’t have the time to introduce yet another character). The remaining problem is mainly with pacing, which is why I’m planning out the volume more before I start. That means no new chapter posts for 1-2 weeks, sorry.
Lastly, Daybreak has always been a medium in which I can write about and reflect upon the tremendous amount of nonfiction I absorb. The following is a reference list of the many historical details I discussed in Volumes 1+2. I tried to be comprehensive but may have still left out a few items — feel free to ask/tell me. The only ones I purposefully skipped are the 2019/2020 world events discussed by Kaede and Konstantin during her recollection scene, because if I expanded upon that I’d have to write an entire post by itself. And it’d be a deeply political one which I don’t need the distraction from right now.
Hussars – although the term was made famous by the Wing Hussars of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, ‘Hussars’ were a common cavalry type for most of Eastern Europe and, by the Napoleonic Wars, used throughout Europe as a common form of light cavalry.
Pascal’s promotion – part of Pascal’s full name is ‘Lennart’, which refers to Swedish Marshal Lennart Torstensson, who served as a general to the famous King Gustavus Adophus, Champion of Protestanism during the 30 Years War. It is said that Lennart first caught the eyes of the King when he was assigned to pass orders during the Polish-Swedish Wars. However, while he was on his way the battlefield situation changed, and he took notice and correspondingly changed the King’s orders. When Lennart returned and told the King what he had done, the King ended up promoting him instead.
House Moltewitz – Pascal’s family is named after the famous von Moltke family of Prussian aristocracy. Moltke the Elder was the father of wargaming and the modern General Staff. It also refers to the Battle of Mollwitz, where King Frederick the Great of Prussia famous said “Mollwitz is my school” for “the Prussian army always attacks”.
House Manteuffel – Ariadne’s family is named after the von Manteuffel family of Prussia aristocracy, including Stateman Otto Theodor von Manteuffel, Field Marshal Edwin Freiherr von Manteuffel, and General Hasso von Manteuffel. The name ‘Manteuffel’ literally means ‘man-devil’, which in the context of Daybreak gives them a connection to the Dragon-Demon Wars.
Oriflamme Paladin – inspired by the Twelve Peers (Paladins) of Charlemagne and the Oriflamme banner of France. The Oriflamme was the royal battle standard of the French army until it was lost at the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years War. It was later replaced by the fleur-de-lis flag by Joan of Arc.
Weimar abolition of nobility – The Weimar Republic was the government of Germany during the interwar years of 1919-1933. It officially abolished German royalty and nobility in August 1919.
Empire of Rhin-Lotharingie – Rhin is the French name for the Rhine River, while Lotharingie is the French name for Lotharingia, or ‘Middle Francia’ as it was the middle successor kingdom of the Frankish Carolingian Empire. It should be noted that despite the narrative of French versus Germans due to centuries of national rivalry, the Franks were a Germanic tribe that migrated from Germany into France during the Migration Period of the 4th-6th century.
Kingdom of Weichsel – Weichsel is the German name for the Vistula River, the mouth of which formed the region of Old Prussia. Since Prussia was a Germanized part of Poland brought by the Teutonic/Baltic Crusade, there are also many Polish elements to the nation of Weichsel, from the names of some noble houses to its cavalry-focused armies.
Holy Imperium of the Inner Sea – based on a Late Roman Empire that never underwent the division between Eastern and Western Roman Empires. Contrary to mainstream narrative, the division of the Roman Empire was not a sign of ‘decline’. It was purposefully done by Emperor Constantin the Great as he recognized that the empire had grown too big, not just in land but also population and complexity, that it was no longer possible to administer effectively from a single capital. The Late Romans also adopted Christianity as its state religion, and cast aside its previous policies of religious autonomy and allowing the various local pagan faiths to thrive.
Grand Republic of Samara – Samara is a reference on both the Samaran Bend region of the Volga River, and a play on the Buddhist concept of Samsara, the cycle of reincarnation and rebirth. The Samarans of Hyperion roughly correlate to the Turkic Volga Bulgars of Earth history, while the Grand Republic of Samara is based on the Republic of Novgorod merged with a form of Tengri-Buddhism as its dominant religion. It is worth noting that like most Eastern religions, the Tengri practiced syncretism, which allowed an amalgamation of multiple religions together to avoid religious conflict. The Tengris take this even further as they believe that humanity has not reached sufficient enlightenment to know what is ‘spiritual truth’, and therefore any religion could be ‘right’. Like Buddhism, Tengris do not care what religion a man worships, only whether or not he is virtuous. These concepts were highly effective in promoting ethnic and religious tolerance by Asian empires such as the Mongols, Kushans, Indians (where Buddhism was merged into Hinduism), and Chinese (which balanced Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism in the ‘Three Teachings’).
Singaporean bureaucracy – the tiny city-state of Singapore in our world has four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil. Students are required to learn two of them, typically English plus one other chosen based on their ancestry. Founded by the famous ‘Grand Master’ of geopolitics Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s system of ‘Guided Democracy’ and one-party rule (the People’s Action Party never loses an election) is often criticized in the West under the narrative of ‘autocracy bad’. Nevertheless, the city-state has one of the world’s most efficient government, education, and healthcare systems, and is widely studied as a premier model of effective governance.
Peasant literacy – for most of human history, over 80% of society was illiterate. This was particularly bad during the European Middle Ages, as literacy dropped as low as 5%.
Noblesse Oblige – a concept of French origin that those born into nobility are obligated to take greater social responsibilities, particularly in leadership. It was seen as a moral perogative that justified the special privileges of the nobility. During the Early Middle Ages, it contributed significantly to the French concept of Chivalry and Élan (vigor/spirit), as nobles observing their duty always took a preeminent role on the battlefield. However it went into rapid decline during the Late Middle Ages, resulting in the ‘useless nobility’ narrative we often see today. The spirit of Noblesse Oblige was however kept by other nations for much longer, for example the Prussian Aristocratic Officer Corps (nobles should lead men into combat) and the Russian Table of Ranks (to succeed a noble title you must achieve an equal administrative/military rank first).
Flying Spaghetti God – the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a parody originally created by Americans to make fun of unscientific schooling (particularly the teaching of Creationism) by Christian fundamentalists. The movement have since spread around the world, often used in mockery of religious zealotry that shuns science in favor of dogma.
Longbow competitions – based on the Welsh/English longbow tradition. The longbow is a weapon of Celtic Welsh origin. It is a difficult weapon to learn as it requires both technique and significant upper body/arm strength, and as a result it often took years to train a longbowmen. In order to assure the availability of these highly-effective archers during times of war, England during the Middle Ages encouraged the practice of longbow archery in all villages and townships, with frequent competitions that awarded great prestige to those who won.
Swordstaff – a Scandinavian weapon commonly used during the Late Middle Ages, particularly by the Swedish.
Trousers – as Joan of Arc’s trial famouly recorded, Church doctrine was not particularly accepting towards the idea of women wearing men’s garments during the Middle Ages. And it was seen as a moral crime punishable by the Church.
Tolerated Heathens – this may be an oxymoron, but it is meant to reflect upon how the Roman Catholic Church looked upon the Greek Orthodox Church (which dominated Eastern Europe) during the Middle Ages after the Great Schism. Even though the Catholics viewed Orthodoxy as heretics, they were ‘heretics to be tolerated’ (and not burned, like the Protestants), due to Rome’s political aims of reunifying the Church. In Hyperion this would be more due more to Samara’s unique role in the world.
Trinitian Church – named after the Holy Trinity of Christianity, the Trinitian Church is largely a duplicate of the pre-reformation Catholic Church, except for the fact it never underwent the Great Schism which tore the Catholic branch (under the leadership of Rome) away from the Oxthodox branch (under the leadership of Constantinople).
Pandemonium Doctrine – a derivative of ‘Soviet Deep Battle’ doctrine melded with old light cavalry tactics established by the Turkic/Mongolic nomads. Unlike most western military doctrines such as the famous German Blitzkrieg/Bewegungskrieg, Deep Battle does not rely on battlefield destruction of enemy forces, and instead seeks to paralyze foes on an operational and strategic level. Because of its focus on a higher tier, it is sometimes described as “playing Go against a Chess player”, and receives much of the credit for how the Red Army was able to crush the German Wehrmacht during WW2 (though the German generals don’t like to admit this and instead prefer to blame the weather and ‘endless Soviet hordes’).
Rhin-Lotharingie Kingdoms – the four Kingdoms of the Rhin-Lotharingie Empire are meant to present major branches of Celtic culture. Gleann Mòr is based on Scotland. Ceredigion is based on Wales. Avorica is based on Britanny. These three branches of celtic culture survives to this day. The last, Garona, is based on Occitania (Southern France, which historically shared more cultural and linguistic commonality with the Iberians than Northern France, so in Daybreak they also represent the Celti-Iberians which had vanished from our world around the Early Middle Ages).
Battle of Alesia – the climatic battle of the Roman Gallic Wars. Chieftain Vercingetorix of the Averni forged a confederation of Gallic tribes to rise up in unified opposition against Roman rule. However he was besieged by Julius Caesar in the fortified settlement of Alesia where the Romans decisively crushed the Gallic relief army. This defeat for the Celtic Gauls ended organized resistance. The Romans would wipe out celtic culture in Gaul (France) by killing 1/3 of its population and enslaving another 1/3 in what historians dub the ‘Celtic Holocaust’, before turning it into a Roman province.
House La Tours – based on the many La Tours families of the French nobility, the most famous of which is probably the de La Tour d’Auvergne, which famously produced Marshal-General Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne (better known as Turenne), and Théophile Corret de la Tour d’Auvergne, whom was called the ‘First Grenadier of France’ by Napoleon.
‘Revocation of Papal Investiture’ – the Investiture Controversy, on whether rulers or Popes had the right to appoint bishops, is one of the oldest Church-vs-State political struggles in history. The original contest took part between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope in the 11/12th century. However, the struggle would flare up again many times, and continues to this day between the Vatican and the Chinese government.
Five Righteous Emperors – based on the ‘Five Good Emperors’ of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty of the early Roman Empire. The Five Good Emperors set forth an example for future Roman rulers as they worked tirelessly to improve Roman administration and the well-being of the empire, which contributed significantly in making Rome one of the most successful empires in history. All five emperors (and most of the Nerva-Antonine line) were also Adoptive Emperors, as each became the successor by adoption and not birth (Roman Law gives equal legal recognition to both status). The word ‘Righteous’ is used in Daybreak to reflect upon the self-justifying theology of the Holy Imperium.
Grand Jarldom of Skagen – based on Nordic Denmark/Norway/Iceland and the somewhat Uralic Finland. The Skagen focus on seafaring and trade is largely based on Norwegian/Danish traditions, whom at their height operated the third largest merchant marine fleet in the world.
Kingdom of Västergötland – named after the real Swedish province of Västergötland. This kingdom exemplifies many of the classic Norse traditions, particularly that of raiding others for plunder. Note that Västergötland means ‘West Gothland’, homeland of the Gothic people. This also means that there was also a East Gotland, Ostergotland, in Daybreak’s setting.
Cataliyan Caliphate – based on the late years of the Rashidun Caliphate, the first Caliphate ruled by the successors of the Prophet Muhammad, combined with the militaristic Umayyad Caliphate, who established the fifth largest empire in history and pushed into Western Europe until the French stopped them at the Battle of Tours.
Labor regulations – the modern ‘weekend’ after a five-day workweek was first introduced by American Socialist institutions in the early 1900s. Before then, it was routine for people to work through the week, with only one day partially or wholly off for religious attendance (Sundays in the West). In fact, before Socialism introduced it there was no concept of ‘sick leave’. If you missed work for any reason, your employer could use it as justification to fire you.
‘Stop waving the big stick and go back to speaking softly’ – referring to the American foreign policy of ‘big stick diplomacy’ during the time of Teddy Roosevelt. During his presidency, Teddy created the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which set up a jurisdiction that allowed the United States to intervene in the affairs of Latin American countries whenever foreign economic interests were endangered. This policy was largely used to coerce and blackmail the Latinos for the benefit of American big-business interests, a behavior best described in General Smedley Butler’s book War is a Racket.
‘Alea iacta est’ – meaning ‘the die has been cast’, words by Julius Caesar as he crossed the Rubicon, thus sparking the Roman Civil War.
House Falkenhausen – Cecylia’s family is named after WW2 General Alexander von Falkenhausen and his Bavarian officer lineage. One of the great ironies of WW2 is that Japan, Germany’s Axis ally, spent most of its time and resources fighting against the Chinese, whom operated under a war plan that was drafted by a German general. Alexander von Falkenhausen was the military advisor to Chiang Kai-shek during the Sino-German Cooperation of 1933-1937. His bonds to China were so strong that the Nazis had to force him to return by threatening his family. He was sent to Dachau Concentration Camp for conspiring in the July 20th Assassination against Hitler, survived, then briefly jailed by the allies for war crimes that he tried to prevent.
Charles the Bold – named after Charles the Bold of Burgundy, who tried to rebuild the old Frankish Kingdom of Lotharingia in the Burgundian Wars but was killed at the Battle of Nancy. This resulted in the Burgundian Succession crisis, during which Mary of Burgundy eventually married Maximilian of Austria and laid the groundwork for the Habsburg Empire.
‘History is still written by the victor’ – during and since winning the Cold War, American propaganda (Hollywood) have shuttered out most of the Soviet army’s accomplishments during World War II. Even the Red Army’s greatest victories have been used to make the Soviet leadership look stupidly evil, such as the myth of sending troops into combat without rifles while machine-gunning them from behind (something routinely shown in Stalingrad movies despite the fact it’s been thoroughly debunked). What’s truly disturbing is how in many stories where the conflict was Nazi vs Soviet, western media chooses to show the Germans as ‘heroic’ while downplaying who started a genocidal war, all because Germany was on the winning side of the Cold War.
Matryoshka cat – named after the famous Russian matryoshka dolls.
Leslie Eachann Barclay of Tollaigh – based on Alexander Leslie of Auchintoul, a Scottish nobleman and mercenary who fought for the Russians during the 17th century, eventually rising to Voivode (general/warlord) of Smolensk. His surname is a reference to Barclay de Tolly, a branch of the Scottish Barclay Clan of Tollaigh who became members of the Russian nobility thanks to their services to Imperial Russia, most famously Prince Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly, commander of Russian forces during the start of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.
Mongol Invasion of Russia – the Mongols invaded the fragmented Kievan Rus states during the 13th century, during which they actually waited for the infamous Russian winter to arrive so they could use the frozen rivers as highways (a testament to their hardiness and superior logistics). The invasion was devastating to the Rus as the mongols slaughtered entire cities, leaving a permanent scar in the Russian mindset. It also created a division in Rus culture as Western Ukraine fell under the domination of Poland-Lithania while the rest of Russia struggled against the ‘mongol yoke’, creating a cultural divergence that remains to this day.
Imperial Examination System – first utilized during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han dynasty in 140BC, the Imperial Examination System is one of China’s longest lasting traditions and set forth a societal expectation for Meritocracy. Traditionally, the national exam took form in tiers, starting from the township level and ending at the capital. The exam was open to even common peasants, and those who scored highest in the nation were often promoted directly to mid-level administrators in the Imperial Bureacracy with high-profile assignments from the Emperor himself. This tradition remains in the present day in the form of the grueling “Gaokao” national college entrance exam, with those scoring the highest attracting the attention of the Communist Party for leadership grooming.
Tauheed religion – Tauheed is derived from the Arabic word Tawhid, which means ‘Oneness of God’. This was used to identiy Daybreak’s equivalent of Islam because it sharply contrasts with the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity, after which the Trinitians are named.
Emperor Geoffroi of Rhin-Lotharingie: named after Geoffroi de Charny, renowned throughout Europe during his lifetime as ‘the true and perfect knight’. He died defending the Oriflamme banner at the Battle of Poitiers.
Reiters – the Schwartz Reiters, or Black Riders, were type of cavalry in 16/17th century Europe that originated from Germany. They were the first cavalry that used firearms (wheellock pistols) as their primary weapon, and often let loose volleys at point-blank range before drawing swords. They were named for their blackened armor, a side-effect of using acid treatment to harden steel plates. In Daybreak this kind of acid-treated armor is used throughout Weichsel.
‘look at those beautiful symbols! I wonder who they stole them from?’ – the Japanese language adopted over 50,000 Chinese logographic characters as ‘Kanji’.
‘Thucydides Trap’ – a term popularized by American political scientist Graham Allison. It’s based on a quote from the Athenian historian Thucydides, which posited that the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta had been inevitable because of Spartan fears towards growing Athenian power. Graham used it to describe the tendency for war to break out when an emerging great power threatens to displace an existing great power as a regional or international hegemon, and is particularly applied to the current Sino-American rivalry.
‘Tragedy of Great Power Politics’ – a phrase coined by John Mearsheimer, Father of the Offensive Realism school of geopolitics. Mearsheimer uses it to describe how great powers, despite having the ability to work together to achieve great things, almost always view their peer competitors with suspicion if not paranoia and will do anything to achieve a comparative upper hand. The result is that great powers often sabotage themselves in the hopes that it will hurt their rivals more, leading to security conflicts (such as arms races) that become a race to the bottom.
‘Piss-drunkard Yeltsin’ – Boris Yeltsin was an extremely unpopular president of Russia, who presided over the years immediately after the dissolution of the USSR. His cronyist politics of selling previous state-owned assets to the highest bidder and pocketing bribes worsened the post-USSR economic collapse, during which countless families starved and millions of women prostituted themselves (leading to the infamous ‘Russian brides’). To maintain power, he falsified election results and used military force to rule, even going as far as calling in tanks to fire upon the Parliament building during the 1993 Constitutional Crisis when the legislature tried to impeach him. Yet because of his neoliberal leanings and corporatist ties, he was hailed by the West as the ‘Father of Democracy’ in Russia and received millions in American campaign contributions.
Nikita and ‘we will bury you’ – the phrase originally came from Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev during an address to Western embassadors, and was widely touted as a statement of Soviet aggression. In reality Nikita was referring to Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto that “What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers”. Authors since have suggested that a better translation would be “we will outlast you” or “we’ll be present at your funeral”. Nevertheless Western popular media continue to use the phrase out of context.
Wargaming – originally created by the Prussian General Staff as a way of training officers and simulating battle plans, wargaming began as a professional exercise that has since spread to the realm of civilian entertainment. Official wargames are still conducted by various militaries today, although their rules are far more stringent than ‘entertainment wargaming’ and they often make use of experienced military commanders as judges.
Knights Hospitaller – also known as the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, the Knights Hospitaller began as a Christian hospital for pilgrims in Jerusalem. After the success of the First Crusade, it expanded into a Catholic military order, and continued to fight the Ottoman Turks from their bases in Rhodes and Malta even after the crusades ended. The order survives to this day and remains the owner of many hospitals in European countries today.
Tagmata Legions – the famous Roman Legion needs no explanation, however the far less known Tagmata is a military formation of the late Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire. The term is particularly used to address the elite Imperial Guard units which formed the core of the Byzantine army, supported by various Theme (local) troops. Unlike the early Roman Legions which relied on heavy infantry, Tagmatas were exclusively heavy cavalry, as the Byzantine Empire relied upon armored, dual-use cavalry (equipped with both lances and bows) for its main offensive strength.
Roland the Gallant – the ancestor of the La Tours family is inspired by Roland the Paladin, the greatest champion of France in the Carolingian Cycle. It should be noted that unlike the figures of Arthurian Legend, Roland was a real-life military leader who served under Charlemagne. Just like his literary character, the real Roland was killed while commanding the rearguard during the Battle of Roncevaux Pass.
Gerhard August von Gneisenau – named after the Prussian Field Marshal August Neidhardt von Gneisenau, a prominent military reformer whose work played an instrumental role in the defeat of Napoleon during the German War of Liberation (War of the Sixth Coalition). Gerhard’s appearance is also based on Gneisenau’s portrait by George Dawe, which looks remarkably young despite the fact he was 58 years of age at the time of painting.
Phoenix Veillantif – named after the warhorse of Roland the Paladin. It means ‘viligant’.
Magna Carta – also known as the ‘Great Charter of Liberties’, the Magna Carta was first drafted in 1215 prior to the outbreak of the First Barons’ War. After being defeated by the French in the Battle of Bouvines, English King John had to sue for peace and pay compensation. Many of his barons owed money to the crown at the time, and when John tried to claim this money, the barons united in opposition to the King. The charter demanded rights and exemptions for ‘free men’, even though it was mostly for the barons while largely ignoring the peasants. It also empowered the barons to seize the King’s assets should they decide the King transgressed, and essentially tried to turn the monarchy into a puppet which can easily be coerced by a council of 25 barons.
Douglas the Black – this hero of the Rhin-Lotharin Independence War is named after James Douglas, a companion of Robert the Bruce during the Wars of Scottish Independence. Known as the terrifying ‘Black Douglas’, he became infamous for launching countless deep raids into English territory with Scottish light cavalry, always screaming ‘Douglas!’ when he attacked without warning.
Phoenix Hauteclaire – named after the sword of Oliver the Paladin, Roland’s best friend and advisor in the Carolingian Cycle. Hauteclaire means ‘high and clear’.
George Kennan – American diplomat and historian, George Kennan is best known for his policy of ‘containment’ towards Soviet expansion during the Cold War, which was largely adopted as official American foreign policy. Unfortunately, America did not heed all of Kennan’s advice either, as he warned against the militarization of US foreign policy, strongly criticized both the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, and commented that the poor treatment of Russia by the US after the Cold War would be remembered as one of America’s greatest strategic blunders.
His most famous, ignored advice may be the following – “expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era.”
Samuel Huntington – American political scientist and historian. Huntington is mostly known for his book, Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, which is one of the most often-cited book in political science and international relations. He identified the inevitable clash between both the US and Islamic culture, as well as conflicts between US and the Far East (US-Japan trade war in his time, and US-China Cold War today) largely comes from cultural differences in what values people uphold, as well as the role of the government and state in each society.
Lee Kuan Yew – The ‘Father of Singapore’, LKY is famous for taking his city-state from a underdeveloped fishing town to a first-world nation in the span of a single generation. Known as the ‘Grand Master’ of geopolitics, LKY’s analysis and predictions are said to be “never wrong” by everyone from Margaret Thatcher to Henry Kissinger to Deng Xiaoping.
Divine Engine Division – one of the three elite Imperial divisions of Ming dynasty China in the late 14th century. The formation was created to specialize in gunpowder warfare and to experiment with new weapons and tactics. It pioneered the famous rotating ranks volley fire at least a century prior to the Dutch and Japanese.
Sidhe, Faerie Lords, Book of Invasions – Sidhe is the Scottish name for a supernatural race of Gaelic mythology. They are best described in the mythological history of Ireland ‘Lebor Gabála Érenn’, also known as the Book of Invasions. Their existence overlaps with the Tuatha Dé Danann, deified ancestors in Irish mythology. In Wales, they correspond with the ‘Tylwyth Teg’, probably as a result of cultural cross-pollination. Over the centuries, the Sidhe became generalized as yet another category of faeries, albeit more powerful than most as they originate from the Otherworld.
Phoenix Joyeuse – named after the royal coronation sword of the French Kings. Legend claims that the same sword was used by Emperor Charlemagne of the Frankish Empire. Joyeuse means ‘joyous’.
Phoenix Almace – named after the sword wielded by Turpin, Archbishop of Reims, in The Song of Roland. The Karlamagnus Saga also claims that Almace, along with Courtain and Durendal (Roland’s sword), was made by the same blacksmith before being presented the Charlemagne.
Hyperborean – Greek for ‘mythical’ people from ‘beyond the North Wind’.
Highland Guard – based on the Garde Écossaise (Scots Guard), an elite Scottish military unit that served as personal bodyguards for the French Monarchy.
House Mackay-Martel – named after the Mackay Clan of the Scottish Highlands, the Frankish ruler Charles Martel, as well as Guillaume de Martel, the last flagbearer of the Oriflamme banner before it was lost at the Battle of Agincourt.
Sino-Soviet Split – developed after the death of Stalin due to the ideological differences between later Soviet leaders and Chinese leader Mao Zedong. After the rise of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, the USSR sought to establish peaceful coexistence with the Western world. Mao labelled this as revisionism and a betrayal of the Marxist-Leninist ideal of an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist world revolution. The split escalated over the 60s, leading to Sino-Soviet border conflict at the Ussuri river in 1969, when the two nuclear powers almost went to war over (uninhabited) disputed territory. After US President Nixon began the Sino-American rapproachement in the 1970s, US and China effectively became allies during the late Cold War, and China’s long border with the Soviet Union forced the USSR to pump even more defense spending into an already excessive military budget, which hastened the collapse of the USSR. After the Cold War and the normalization of relations, China and Russia resolved all of their border disputes to avoid the likelihood of this episode repeating.
Erwin von Hammerstein – named after General Kurt Gebhard von Hammerstein-Equord, Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr 1930-1934. He tried to stop Hitler’s coming to power and failed numerous times to lure Hitler in for assassination. He died of cancer during the war and his family was sent to concentration camps for their participation in the German Resistance (they survived).
Great Heathen Army – formed by a coalition of Scandinavian warriors during the 9th century, the Great Heathen Army ravaged across much of England and established the Danelaw, territories where Danish (Norse) Law ruled the land. The army would be partially defeated by Alfred the Great, who contained the damage it dealt through a combination of gold payments, Christian conversion, and effective military defense. Legends have it that the Great Heathen Army was led by the Sons of Ragnar Lodbrok to avenge their father’s death.
Hans Ostergalen – named after German General Hans Oster and Cardinal Clemens von Galen. Oster is the leader of the 1938 Oster Conspiracy and one of the founders of the German Resistance during WW2. Galen led the Catholic resistance against Nazi prosecution and was beatified as a saint after the war.
Knights Templar – also known as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, the Knights Templar was a Catholic military order established after the First Crusade and charged with the defense of the Holy Land. The Templars accepted donations throughout Europe to aid its efforts, and eventually grew so wealthy that it established its own economic infrastructure and became an early form of banking throughout Christendom. The Templars retained independence and political power after the loss of the Holy Land, and became a “state within a state” in many Christian countries. This, combined with their wealth and the debts owed to them, eventually caused the French monarchy to crack down and destroy the order using false confessions of demonic worship.
Goedendag – a Dutch weapon commonly used by the militias of Flanders. As noted, its name means ‘good day’.
New World/Frontier – Norse colonization of the Americas began as early as the 10th Century, mostly to acquire furs and lumber. It’s uncertain why their settlements were short-term and abandoned by the end of the Viking Age, or the world today would be very different.
Trans-Siberian Railroad – built by Tsar Alexander III between the years of 1891 and 1916, the railroad connected Moscow with Vladivostok. It was immediately filled to capacity after its construction by local goods, particularly grain, which showed just how badly needed it was for Russian trade. It also played an important role during the Russo-Japanese War and both World Wars.
Russian rail gauge – Tsar Nicolas I chose the 1520mm rail gauge over the more commonly used 1435mm standard gauge. The choice was mostly made because it was the recommendation of an American railway engineer who had been hired as a consultant. Nevertheless the difference in rail gauges would become famous, especially during WW2 when it plays a significant role is slowing down the German advance due to logistical bottlenecks, as trains had to be unloaded and reloaded at the border.
‘Aggressive Defense’ – Throughout history, Russia has been repeated invaded and wrecked by foreign powers. The deadly invasion of the Mongols, which destroyed many of the Rus cities, left a legacy of the ‘Tatar Yoke’ which prompted Russia’s eastward expansion. However, while Siberia has since given Russia plenty of ‘buffer space’, the same could not be said of their western side. As a result Russia was repeated invaded by European powers, including by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (mostly infamously in the Polish sack of Moscow in 1611), by the Swedish Carolean Army in 1709 during the Great Northern War, by Napoleon’s Grand Army in 1812 (during which Moscow was burned again), and by the Nazi Wehrmacht in 1941. Each time, Russia would see its land ravaged by the invaders, which left a deep trauma that made Russia very insecure about its territorial security — the two invasions of Russia in 20th century alone cost the Russians over 30 million lives.
This is a fact widely acknowledged by geopolitical experts on why Russia see NATO encroachment as a threat to its very existence, and why Russia seeks to create pro-Russian buffer states between itself and Europe.
Tibetan slavery – prior to 1959, Tibet was ruled by the Buddhist lamas as a theocratic caste society, with 98% of its population enslaved in serfdom and could be tortured by their owners for any disobedience. After 1959, China retook control of the separatist state (Tibet effectively declared Independence in 1913 after the Qing dynasty collapsed, although this was not recognized by any government except Mongolia). Mao declared the abolition of the caste system and emancipated the serfs, while the Tibetan religious elite fled to India to start their ‘Free Tibet’ movement with CIA support.
(FYI nowhere in mainstream Buddhism is ‘owning another person’ considered acceptable, no matter how ‘superior’ you are in the path to reaching Nirvana. So as a Buddhist who actually learned history, I particularly abhor it when people go ‘oh so you like the Dalai Lama’)
Churchill and the Bengal Famine – during the century of British rule over India, British laws imposed high taxes upon Indian farmers, which forced them to focus on growing cash crops like cotton while ignoring food security. This caused India to suffer countless man-made famines, with one of the worst ones being the Bengal Famine of 1943 when over 3 million Indians starved to death as a result of both food-insecurity and deliberate scorched earth policies. During the famine, British ships continued to export grain out of India, despite pleas made by colonial officials for relief and offers by Australia to give aid. Prime Minister Winston Churchill argued it was more important to stockpile grain for postwar needs than to save Indian lives, and peevishly wrote on the reports he received “why hasn’t Gandhi died”.
Public latrines – the bathhouse’s layout, architecture, and latrines are all based on Roman bathhouses in our world. Roman public latrines were designed to be social places where people could gather and chat while they did their business. The use of vinegar-sanitized sponges to wipe one’s rear was also commonplace, as toilet paper was invented in 6th century China and would take a millennium to reach Europe.
‘The Guard dies! It does not surrender!’ – the famous response by Napoleon’s Imperial Guard General Pierre Cambronne when requested to surrender after the Battle of Waterloo. Pierre insisted to his dying day that he did not actually say this, by the French put it on his monuments anyway.
Deng Xiaoping and joint-venture companies – when Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping began the Four Modernizations in the 1980s, he faced significant opposition from party elders and conservatives, who accused him of ‘selling China to the Imperialists’ in an act no different from the Unequal Treaties signed by the Qing dynasty. Deng would strike a compromise that any company which leases land (all land in China is owned by the state and only leased out on 70-year contracts) and operates in China must be ‘Chinese-owned’, which in reality was often a majority ownership by a very slight margin (i.e. 50.5%)
‘Herbivore men’ – a derogatory Japanese term for men who lacked personal ambition and drive, and thus do not act assertively in their professional or romantic lives. They are seen as having lost their ‘manliness’ and are blamed for Japan’s declining birth rates and stagnant economy. Exact definition vary, but the most well-known description (by Philosopher Masahiro Morioka) is “kind and gentle men who, without being bound by manliness, do not pursue romantic relationships voraciously and have no aptitude for being hurt or hurting others.”
Massive Strike – based on the Naval Aviation doctrine of the Imperial Japanese Navy Mobile Strike Force (‘Kidou Butai’) and its founder, Isoroku Yamamoto. It emphasized mobile, concentrated, long-range attack power capable of crippling enemy forces without the need for a decisive surface battle.
Battle of Midway – the decisive naval battle of the WW2 Pacific Theater, where the Japanese lost four Fleet Carriers due to operational intelligence failure, tactical scouting failure, and the defensive combat air patrol being caught out of position.
‘Holy Father with us’ – based on Gott mit uns! a German war cry originally introduced by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. It grew to become the unifying cry of the Germanies, representing their shared ethnicity and protestant faith.
Flares in Red, Blue, Yellow, Black – colors of the naval Z-flag, which was raised before the decisive Battle of Tsushima by Admiral Heihachirou. It was used in the same way by Admiral Yamamoto prior to the Attack of Pearl Harbor.
Skywhale/Air Groups – Polarlys is Danish for ‘Polar Lights’, or the Aurora Borealis. Lyngbakr and Hafgufa are Icelandic for ‘Heather Back’ and ‘Sea Steam’, two legendary sea monsters of the Greenland Sea. Livjatan is Danish for ‘Leviathan’, considered either one of the Princes of Hell or the Gatekeeper of Hell.
‘Every tank needs its own radio. We Russians learned that the hard way.’ – during WW2, the Germans established the policy of one radio per tank early in the war, while most of their enemies had to rely on shouts and hand signals for communications. This improved the German tankers’ group awareness and ability to coordinate far beyond their rivals, and allowed them to inflict devastating losses upon their adversaries (particularly the Russians).
Combat Box formation – tactical formation used by WW2 strategic bombers. It specializes in its ability to provide mutually-supporting, interlocking defensive fire.
Meteor Hammer – ancient Chinese weapon consisting of one or two mace heads at the end(s) of a long chain. The meteor hammer is a fairly unique weapon as it relies upon its spin to build up energy, which is then released at the opponent. This long chain gives it significant reach and makes it very difficult to dodge, but it’s also extremely hard to learn (and easy to accidently hurt yourself using).
‘Hugging the enemy’: tactic coined by General Chuikov during the Battle of Stalingrad. By reducing the distance between Russian and German positions to a 10-20 meters, he made it impossible for German air superiority to bomb the Russian lines without friendly fire.
Armored Wedge: based on the Panzerkeil formation, a variant of the Flying Wedge formation dating back to ancient times and used by migratory birds even before then. By placing heavy tanks in the tip of a chevron followed by progressively lighter vehicles on the wings, an assault force could protect its more vulnerable assets while breaking through heavy defenses with concentrated force.
Huskarls – based on the household troops of Nordic and Saxon cultures, who had a reputation for holding firm shield-wall lines as long as their lord led them. Their most famous participation was during the Battle of Hastings, where despite the death of their King and the English rout, King Harold’s Huskarls gathered around his body and fought to the death.
Ski infantry – perfected by the Finns, and used by the Rus of Novgorod since the Middle Ages. It offered infantry with speed and maneuverability comparable to light cavalry, despite drawbacks like poor footing. Skis are usually taken off before actual combat, but not always.
Motti Tactics – ‘Motti’ is Finnish slang for pocket, or a totally encircled hostile force. The tactic involves breaking a large, invading force into smaller, bite-sized chunks by cutting the road at numerous points. At which point the Finns, using their local terrain knowledge and other home advantages, will defeat the enemy in detail.
Völva – female seeresses in Germanic religion who are believed to have magical abilities, particularly the power to foretell future events. Völva held not just a ceremonial but also an authoritative role in Early Germanic (particularly Norse) societies, and was largely limited to females as male seers were often seen as ‘unnatural’ and looked upon with disdain.
Zmey – a dragon of Slavic mythology, commonly found in Russian literature as a prime antagonist. Zmeys were commonly portrayed as having multiple heads. Though this number could go as high as a dozen, the most famous was three-headed.
‘Just like Caesar did at Pharsalus!’ – the Battle of Pharsalus was the climatic encounter of the Roman Civil War, where Julius Caesar decisively defeated Pompey Magnus by rolling up the Pompeian battle line from the right flank.
Rimefire Siphoneers – based on the Greek Fire siphons used by the Byzantium Empire, though in our history these siphons were mostly mounted on ships, wagons, and towers as they were too large to carry. Nobody ever figured out how to replicate Greek Fire due to the careful compartmentalization of its production and distribution, and after the Fall of Constantinople Greek Fire became ‘lost technology’.
Zweihander – literally ‘two-hander’ in German. It is a two-handed sword commonly used during the Late Middle Ages, where it was used by shock troops to hack through pike walls.
Walther von Mackensen – named after the famous Prussian and German Field Marshal whose long life spanned over six eras of German history. August von Mackensen was known for his famous hat, his fearsome reputation, and having defended the honor of the German Army to his dying breath. During WWII, the retired, 90-year-old Marshal wrote to the German high command, criticizing its perpetrated atrocities and that “the honour of the Army and the esteem in which it is held must not be jeopardized by the actions of hired subhumans and criminals” (referring to the Nazis).
Realpolitik – coined by Ludwig von Rochau in 1853. Realpolitik envisions geopolitics and diplomacy driven not by ideological factors like morals or ethics, but solely by national power, practical interests, and material considerations. In other words, the belief of ‘just’ and ‘right’ when it comes to politics is mere propaganda for the less educated. Though unlike political realism, realpolitik is not just a concept but also a prescriptive set of guidelines for policy. The most famous advocate of realpolitik is Otto von Bismarck, the Prussia Chancellor who would use it to unite the Germanies.
“The Holy Imperium’s Golden Age ended when one of their finest emperors completely failed as a father” — this episode of Imperial history is a reference to Marcus Aurelius in Roman history. Widely known as the ‘Philosopher Emperor’, Marcus Aurelius was a stoic philosopher and the last of the ‘Five Good Emperors’. However Marcus was not a good father, partly due to the Marcomanni Wars which forced him to spend much of his time away from Rome. Because of this (and other factors), Marcus Aurelius’ son Commodus grew up to be mentally unbalanced, and after being manipulated by several political plots, his behavior turned towards narcissist self-deification and paranoia.
Black Lancers – the all-gryphon, assault-focused Knight Phantom unit led by Colonel Bittenfeld is a reference to the Schwartz Lanzenreiter fleet in Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Marshal Mittemeyer – Weichsel’s legendary ‘Commoner Marshal’ is named after Wolfgang Mittemeyer from Legend of the Galactic HeroesAuthor's Comment
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