So why did someone like Sor-eel get the command to conquer Prax? Well lets start by looking at the main Lunar generals circa 1610:
Fazzur Wideread. He’s a provincial warleader, successfully invaded Hendrikiland in 1605 and proved his competence. But he’s a provincial – albeit the kinsman of a provincial king. He lacks the social status – and imperial ties – to successfully command Heartlander regiments.
Euglyptus the Fat. A kinsman of the Red Emperor of the highest social status. He has command over the Lunar Army in Dragon Pass. However, he is not a particularly energetic commander and he’s seen as better fit to occupy and rule a territory than conquer it. He also already failed one attempt to invade Prax.
Jomes Wulf. Another provincial war leader, this time from Aggar. He earned his reputation fighting werewolves. His social status is too low to be appointed.
The conquest of Prax allows the empire to get around the Holy Country and access the sea and all that trade. So Prax is perceived as being strategically important to the future of the Lunar Empire. What is needed is someone with social cache similar to Euglyptus but more like Fazzur Wideread or Jomes Wulf in terms of competence.
Jar-eel has already begun her ascent to herodom. And she has a cousin who is a Yanafali officer (and likely served with distinction in 1602 and 1605). The Eel-arish use their pull to get Sor-eel the Short appointed general of the invasion of Prax. Fazzur Wideread gets assigned his chief of staff. The invasion of Prax is a glorious success and both Sor-eel and Fazzur get great glory from it. Sor-eel is rewarded with Prax as a command and tries to make alliances among the Praxians to give the Empire useful new sources of cavalry.
In 1613, Starbrow’s Rebellion leads to the downfall of Euglyptus the Fat. Fazzur Wideread is able to gather an army in Tarsh and is given command to suppress the rebellion (out of necessity). He does it quickly and efficiently, and with the support of the Eel-ariash, he gets the appointment as governor of occupied Dragon Pass. Fazzur is assigned Euglyptus’ kinsman Tatius (dean of the Field School of Magic) as part of his stuff.
But the Lunar attempts to create a sea port at Corflu fail. And the rise of Jar-eel to Herodom means the other noble families fear and resent the Eel-ariash. Jar-eel is too powerful to act against, but Sor-eel isn’t. He gets stuck with Prax for almost a decade – he is always “too important” to return to Glamour or be given another command. When the order is given for Fazzur to invade the Holy Country, Sor-eel is ordered to remain in Prax (with only the rump of his former army command – a mere three regiments).
When the efforts to take the Giant’s Cradle fail, Sor-eel is blamed, and forced out of his command by his enemies. This also results in Fazzur being dismissed and Tatius the Bright being appointed Governor-General of Dragon Pass. As Prax is seen as having no strategic value anymore, the Provincial Overseer appoints one of his lieutenants (Halcyon var Enkorth) to be the overseer of Pavis. Sor-eel returns to Glamour.
But in 1624, the Empire is at war again, this time with the Pentans. No doubt Sor-eel is rehabilitated and appointed general of the Cavalry Corps by his cousin when she is appointed commander-in-chief to fight against the Pentans. Sor-eel serves as his cousin’s general, and by 1627 is likely FAR more important in the empire than he ever was out in Prax.
Before anyone says there must have been many more generals, remember that Dragon Pass (including Prax and the Holy Country) was the only significant military front for the Lunar Empire for over a century (at least until 1624). If a general was not present there, they weren’t exactly in the middle of the action.
There are a few additional Lunar generals a level or two below those I have named:
Jordan Sideburn – Tarshite provincial of no great family.
King Phargentes – king of Tarsh and a competent general in his own right.
Perides – eldest son of Satrap Odenades of Sylila, and a skilled general in his own right. Considered an up and comer. Highest social status of the group.
Beat-Pot Aelwrin – Jar-eel’s right hand companion is a skilled general in his own right but usually serves at her side.
Command of the Lunar Army in the Redlands (1624-1625) was given to Heartland imperial nobles, until Jar-eel took over as commander-in-chief. Several of these generals died and none distinguished themselves.
For more than a century, Dragon Pass has been the land of war. That’s were people go to fight. Pent is depopulated and empty after the Nights of Horror and Fronela is under the Ban.
The existence of the Land of War is enough to justify the campaigns, the costs, and the endless conflict. But remember Dragon Pass does not pose a real threat to the Lunar Empire – it is a place where war can happen without much risk for the Heartlands.
And this approach works for a century or so. Until it all comes crashing down.
Fazzur always reminds me of Belisarius. Does he have an Antonina like lunar dancer wife? No. He was married into a local Dunstop aristocratic tribal family as part of his family’s agenda to secure their local power base.
To understand Tarsh in the current time, one needs to understand how important the last three generations of the Blacktooth family (the Orindori) have been.
Vostor Blacktooth, Fazzur’s father, was a loyal retainer of General Phargentes, brother to King Piligos who was driven out of Tarsh by Palashee Longaxe (who then became king). For many years the exiles lived in the Empire, growing and gathering strength. Vostor was 24 when the Empire re-invaded Tarsh, and he commanded a cavalry contingent in the fight, showing himself to be clever, confident, and competent. Though the Lunar king was slain, Phargentes made a brilliant recovery, slew Palashee, and became king himself. The year was 1556. Vostor was rewarded with Dunstop and its rich lands.
Vostor had four sons and one daughter by two wives. They were all loyal and brave. The brothers all became Lunar soldiers who fought often for their king. The eldest son, Farrad, died at age 28 in the Battle of Grizzley Peak (1582) which smashed the Sartar army. The second son, Goslem, died at age 23 in the Battle of Bagnot (also 1582), when he acted rashly and attacked too soon. The third son was Wassail. He was quick to rise in the priesthood and helped Moirades arrange the difficult magic which helped kill Sartar prince Terasarin in 1600. Fazzur was the youngest son, born in 1564. He was a gifted child and a talented soldier, receiving his commission early. Vostor’s last child, a daughter, was born in 1568 and was named Harsta. She was a proud and haughty noblewoman, and wed the son of King Phargentes – Moirades.
Fazzur was an avid scholar while young, so avid that his father feared at first that he would prove to be no soldier. Instead, his scholastic energies aided him in his rapid rise through the military. His kinship by marriage to King Moirades no doubt helped as well. He was eager to use ancient military tricks and tactics in battle. Fazzur was only 18, a mere lieutenant, at Grizzly Peak where his brother died so famously. He led many raids against Sartar and Alda-chur, and commanded a brigade during the invasion of Sartar in 1602. He was present when Runegate fell to the Crimson Bat during that year, and he led the assault upon Boldhome when the Sartar capital was conquered.
Fazzur was in command of the regiment which invaded in feint through the Hendreiki lands in 1605. At the same time the main Lunar Army attacked Esrolia and was defeated by the Building Wall of Belintar. Fazzur pushed aside the defenders and laid waste to the land but was recalled when the main army was defeated. He was heard to complain, afterwards, that he could have marched all the way to Karse if he had been allowed.
Fazzur was second in command when the Lunar Army invaded Prax; he had proposed the invasion plan which worked so easily, but became embroiled in an argument about how to handle the occupied city. He was withdrawn to spend time training the Tarsh Native Army in 1611. He remained in Tarsh, impatiently, for two years reading many scrolls and books.
During the 1613 rebellion in Sartar, the Dara Happan commander there proved himself a drunkard and incompetent in his handling the situation. Fazzur petitioned his nephew, now the King of Tarsh, for command of the relieving troops. He received it and achieved a quick and complete victory. The rebel leaders were either outlawed or killed. Fazzur retained command of the occupying army having proven himself a calm, capable and effective leader.
To what extent does Beat-Pot’s military/political endeavors have a path independent of Jar-Eel? Jar-eel sucks all the oxygen out of every room she is in, including the Red Emperor’s court. But Beat-Pot is certainly a skilled captain and leader of warriors. Probably one of the best generals the Empire has, even if he is primarily working in tandem with Jar-eel.