The General series

The General series

"The General" (also known as the Raj Whitehall series, after the lead character) is a set of military science fiction books written by S.M. Stirling from an outline by David Drake. Clearly inspired by the Byzantine commander Belisarius, the series shares numerous common elements with the more recent Belisarius series by Drake and Eric Flint.

Books

Original series

"Centering on Raj Ammenda Halgern da Luis Whitehall"
# "The Forge" (1991)
# "The Hammer" (1992)
# "The Anvil" (1993)
# "The Steel" (1993)
# "The Sword" (1995)The first two books were also published as an omnibus "Warlord" (2003), with the last three in another as "Conqueror" (2003).

Follow-on series

# "The Chosen" (1996)
# "The Reformer" (1999)
# "The Tyrant" (by Eric Flint, 2002)

Plot

The first five books are set on the planet Bellevue, previously part of a high-technology galactic civilization. Planetary civilization collapsed during "The Fall", when extensive fusion-bombing greatly reduced the planet's population and technology level. Technology has redeveloped only slowly: the most advanced groups have reached the level of double-expansion steam engines, wrapped-brass-cartridge breech-loading rifles (Martini-Henry lock or very similar) and lever-action carbines, cast-steel breech-loading cannon, simple revolvers, etc. Progress has stalled at this point: the breech-loading rifle design has not changed for over two hundred years, and other groups still use flintlock or percussion cap weapons.

The "concept" of computer technology has become the basis for a religion in the Civil Government, the Spirit of Man of the Stars, with priestly Hierarchs, Sysups, and an Inquisition called the Anti-Viral Cleansers. There is also a schismatic sect, The Spirit of Man of This Earth, which is more popular among the barbarian Military Governments. The people of Bellevue speak various mangled tongues, including Sponglish, Spanjol, Namerique and Paytoiz, with elements of English, French and Spanish apparent. At the time of the Fall the planet had no horses, so now cavalry is mounted on thousand-pound dogs of various breeds.

The books begin in the Year of the Fall 1103, when the protagonist and minor noble, Raj Whitehall, and his friend Thom Poplanich stumble on a still-working remnant of the old technology, the computer "Center", which Raj regards as an angel (as computers are thought of by his religion). Center describes itself as a "sentient artificial entity of photonic subsystems tasked with the politico-military supervision" of Bellevue. Center tasks Whitehall with uniting Bellevue and provides him, through a constant mental link, with predictive visions that simulate probable situational outcomes, historical data, eidetic memory, and minor enhancements to physical abilities including accuracy with firearms. It keeps Thom in its room, subjecting him to the same kind of link while teaching him the arts of peace. Raj couples these assets with his own incredible knack for clever strategy and innovative tactics to become an extremely effective military leader. Meanwhile, his experienced and driven wife Suzette quietly uses her own highly developed court intrigue skills to neutralize Raj's political foes and obstacles behind the scenes, compensating for his own less-than-diplomatic skills.

True to their historical model, the books focus on the convoluted "strategic offensive, tactical defensive" campaigns of General Whitehall around the Midworld Sea and his fraught relationships with his paranoid but capable 'emperor' –--- Governor Barholm Clerett ---- and Clerett's avaricious and corrupt chancellor Tzetzas.

Whitehall's nation calls itself the Civil Government, and it is centrally located among enemy empires the Military Governments ---- The Brigade and The Squadron --- and the Islamic Colonists.

=Characters=

Civil Government

Raj Whitehall

The protagonist of the story, Raj (Raj Ammenda Halgren da Luis Whitehall, Whitehall of Hillchapel, Hereditary Supervisor of Smythe Parish, Descott County) is "chosen" by the Sector Command And Control Mk-XIV Computer he calls "Center" to unite Bellevue in order to restore civilization on the planet and save it from a downward spiral that, according to Center's projections, might last as long as fifteen thousand years. On his campaigns, he collects a group of Companions: able commanders who form the "ad hoc" overall command group of the Whitehall's armies. His campaigns begin on the border of the Civil Government with the Islamic Colony at Sandoral, then go on to the barbarian-controlled Southern Territories of The Squadron and the Western Territories of the Brigade, and culminate in his defense of the Civil Government once more at Sandoral against the Colony's main army. Throughout the series, Raj Whitehall is doubted and suspected of treason by Governor Barholm Clerett, despite continuously proving his loyalty ---- even after he thwarts an attempt on Clerett's life by ending a coup staged by Thom Poplanich's brother Des and troops led by Colonel Stanson.

uzette Whitehall

Raj Whitehall's exceptionally intelligent, strong-willed, and resourceful wife, who accompanies him on his compaigns. (Messa Suzette Emmenalle Forstin Hogor Wenqui Whitehall, Lady of Hillchapel) The Wenqui family goes back to the Fall, poor but proud. Suzette is also close friends with Barholm's wife, Lady Anne Clerett, who started out as a child-whore bear the Canidrome.

Companions

The Companions, men loyal to General Whitehall, form the "de facto" overall command group of Whitehall's Expeditionary Forces, as the Army does not have a structure of command higher than battalion level. Most of them are of the "Messer" class, the nobility of the Civil Government.
The Companions are formed in "The Forge" when Whitehall is called to an incident in a farmstead during the march to Komar, and Staenbridge, Foley, the Gruders, M'brust, and M'lewis volunteer to accompany him. Captain Stanson called them "The Loyal Companions" in a half-serious jest.
*Colonel Gerrin Staenbridge "(becomes Companion in The Forge)"Second in overall command, Raj Whitehall's right-hand man. Commands: 5th Descott Guards (Raj's Own)
*Colonel Jorg Menyez "(becomes Companion in The Forge)"Overall infantry commander, directly commands 17th Kelden County Foot.
*Colonel Grammeck Dinnalsyn "(becomes Companion in The Hammer)"Overall artillery commander. Dinnalsyn, like most artillerymen in the "Gubernio Civil", is somewhat of an engineer, as he is knowledgeable on matters concerning fortifications and weapons development.
*Muzzaf Kerpatik "(becomes Companion in The Forge)"Non-military: a Komarite (Arab) trader who swears loyalty to Raj Whitehall after coming to feel shame for taking part in the dealings of Chancellor Tzetzas, which had led to the weakening of Komar's defenses. He is Raj's main logistics man and the chief steward of the Whitehalls' wealth.
*Major Kaltin Gruder "(becomes Companion in The Forge)"Commands: 7th Descott Rangers. Was a company commander of the 5th Descott; promoted to command of the 7th Descott after the "Valley of Death" battle in "The Forge".
*Major Ehwardo Poplanich "(becomes Companion in The Hammer)"Commands: Poplanich's Own. This battalion is recruited from the Poplanich family's estates around East Residence. Ehwardo is cousin to Thom and Des Poplanich, and is killed in "The Steel" by the Brigade under the walls of Old Residence.
*Captain Evrard Gruder "(becomes Companion in The Forge)"Younger brother of Kaltin Gruder. Killed in "The Forge" by a shell from a Colonial "pom-pom", a light field gun with a higher rate of fire and smaller shells than the Civil Government's.
*Captain Barton Foley "(becomes Companion in The Forge)"Commands: A Company, 5th Descott Guards. Loses his left hand in The Forge to a pom-pom shell; he replaces it with a sharpened hook. Foley is Gerrin Staenbridge's protege-cum-boyfriend, and is fond of literature. Before every major battle in the field, Foley gives the following toast to end staff meetings: "He fears his fate too much, and his desserts are small, he who will not put it to the touch --- to win or lose it all.". Foley's interest in literature will garner him an award for his book, "Raj Whitehall and His Times," which he writes after Thom Poplanich is enChaired as Governor and Center declares the Fall to be ended.
*Senior Captain Antin M'lewis "(becomes Companion in The Forge)"Commands: 5th Descott Guards' Scout Unit (The Forty Thieves). He is from Bufford Parish, the most lawless part of not-so-lawful Descott County, and is therefore regarded as somewhat of a bandit by Raj Whitehall when they first meet. He is distinguished by his wire garrote and the skinning knife he carries on his left side. M'lewis meets Raj Whitehall when he is brought before Raj concerning a farmer's pig (or a shoat) gone missing despite a no-foraging order.
*Major Mekkle Thiddo "(becomes Companion in The Hammer)"A junior Lieutenant in the 5th, he was supposed dead in the retreat from El Djem. However, he survives and rises to command the 1st Rogor Slashers at the start of the Southern Territories campaign. Shot under truce banner after parley with "Squadrone" Admiral Auburn.
*Major Tejan M'brust "(becomes Companion in The Hammer)"Commands: 1st Rogor Slashers, then 2nd Cruisers. Takes command of 1st Rogor Slashers after death of Mekkle Thiddo in The Hammer; later transferred to the 2nd Cruisers in The Anvil.
*Major Peydaro Belagez "(becomes Companion in The Forge)"Commands: 1st Rogor Slashers, after Tejan M'Brust is transferred to 2nd Cruisers. Responsible (with Muzzaf Kerpatik) for the capture of the "Squadrones" responsible for the murder of Mekkle Thiddo, and their crucifixion at Raj's orders.
*Major Hadolfo Zahpata "(becomes Companion in The Hammer)"Commands: 18th Komar Borderers.
*Major Ludwig Bellamy "(becomes Companion in The Hammer)"Commands: 1st Cruisers, ex-"Squadrone" soldiers conscripted into the Civil Government Army.
*Major Teodore Welf "(becomes Companion in The Steel)"Commands: 1/591st, 2/591st, 3/591st ex-"Brigaderos"soldiers conscripted into the Civil Government Army. Formerly second-in-overall-command of the Brigade under General Ingreid Manfrond.

Center

Center (Sector Command and Control Unit AZ12-b14-c000 Mk. XIV)is an artificial intelligence attempting to unite planet Bellevue and restore it's civilization, with the intent to later restore faster-than-light travel and then reestablish civilization on the other planets of the collapsed interplanetary federation. Center's original purpose, prior to the collapse of civilization, appears to have been as a system for strategic military command and control of the local military units. Center originates with the collapsed Federation and the original Civil Government, it is unclear if its alignment with the current Civil Government is due to adhering to a directive or it views that government as the one most likely to succeed in the goal of re-civilization. Due to the destruction Center's external sensors (orbiting satellites etc.) during the fall, Center is limited to data either obtained previously or via the link to Raj Whitehall's senses and thoughts. Center provides constant probabilistic analysis and future projections of the political, social and military situation. This analysis is essential in steering choices away from local optimum, decisions that appear correct but which would lead to eventual disaster. Additionally Center provides historical references to earth's history that relate to technology and specific relevant historical events. Center is not merely an assistant, it is clearly the driving force behind Raj Whitehall, using Whitehall's military skill and acumen to achieve Center's goals. Initially Whitehall's cooperation is due to superstitious obedience to what he perceives as a supernatural entity, then the relationship becomes increasingly more cooperative as Whitehall understands the true situation and the necessity of the actions.

The Colony

The Settler

Absolute despot of The Colony. Required to be perfect in body under Islamic law.

Jamal

The Settler of The Colony in The Forge; killed during the Battle of Sandoral and his head brought to Raj Whitehall by Skinner Chief Juluk.

Ali ibn'Jamal

Became Settler after defeating his brother Akbar in a civil war that came about when his father Jamal was killed in The Forge during the Battle of Sandoral. He is cowardly, cruel, capricious, vindictive, and psychotic. He was beheaded presumably by his brother Tewfik in "The Sword".

Tewfik ibn'Jamal

Military commander of The Colony and brother to The Settler; would probably have been The Settler, had not an eye lost in combat disqualified him as imperfect in body. Possibly a more capable combat commander than even Raj Whitehall.

=Nations and Barbarians=

The Civil Government / "Gubernio Civil"

Remnants of those who remained loyal to the Federation and the civilian government; the planet's most technologically advanced nation. The Civil Government is governed by a hierarchy of Ministers headed by a single Governor, who is also is the head of the Church of Holy Federation and Viceregent of the Spirit of Man. Governors are placed on the Chair either by hereditary inheritance or by "shooting their way onto the Chair" ---- a coup, usually by a successful general. Raj Whitehall believes that the Civil Government is the legitimate ruler of all Bellevue. Residents of the Civil Government speak Sponglish, a mangled version of Spanish and English which apparently is descended primarily from Mexican Spanish. This state is modeled on the Byzantine Empire.

The Colony

Nation established by Islamic/Arab settlers; technologically second only to the Civil Government. The Colonists were the first to arrive on planet Bellevue during the Last Jihad and their capital Al Kebir is the oldest city in the planet. Their leader is called The Settler, and, as in the Civil Government, the right to the throne is settled either by hereditary inheritance or civil war, the latter usually a result of a dispute among multiple heirs to the throne. Those who are not whole in body (i.e. missing a limb or other body part) are ineligible to claim the throne, which is why Tewfik ibn'Jamal cannot become Settler: he lost an eye in the Zanj campaigns. Residents of the Colony speak Arabic. This state is modeled on the Sassanid Empire of Belisarius's time.

The Brigade / "Brigaderos"

Barbarian Military Government established by the descendants of the 591st Provisional Brigade; the most technologically advanced of the Military Governments. The "Brigadero" army uses rifle-muskets, which are primitive compared to the Armory breech-loaders used by the Civil Government Army. Cavalry units also carry two-meter long lances as well as cutlasses with hand-guards. "Brigadero" soldiers wear front-and-back breastplates, which are resistant to the hollow-point lead bullets fired by Civil Government rifles; this leads the Civil Government army to switch to brass-tipped bullets to puncture such armor. Residents of The Brigade speak the dialects of Spanjol and Namerique, remnants of Spanish and French/English respectively. This state is modeled on the Ostrogoths of Belisarius's time.

The Squadron / "Squadrones"

Barbarian Military Government established by the descendants of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron. Less developed than the Brigade, and with a more maritime orientation. The "Squadrones" can be likened to the Germanic "berserkers", both from physical appearance (they are described as large, pale-skinned and well-built) and from their apparent love for combat; it is shameful in their culture to shun or run away from battle. In Raj Whitehall's first campaign in the Western Territories, the "Squadrones" literally charge into the line of fire of the Civil Government field guns. Residents of The Squadron speak the dialects of Spanjol and Namerique, remnants of Spanish and French/English respectively. This state is modeled on the Vandals of Belisarius's time.

The Skinners

Barbarian nomads employed by the Civil Government as mercenaries. Notorious anarchists, with a reputation for marksmanship, dog riding, and atrocities. The Skinners speak a mangled mixture of English and French, "Paytoiz". They are reminiscent of the Huns. There are many references to the Skinners coming from French Canada, particularly Quebec. One of the groups is the "Trois Rivière" tribe. There are also examples of French Canadian names. This also explains the mixture of French and English.

The Zanj

Little is known of the Zanj or its Negroid people, other than that Tewfik ibn'Jamal lost his eye while campaigning there, and that it is the source of "kave" and the extremely valuable torofib silk. The people of the Zanj are "shi'a (Shiite)" Muslims. Other Muslims also exist; Abdullah Al'aziz is a Druze whose life and family are saved by Suzette Whitehall, and who repays her by serving as her chief spy.

Chosen series

In the follow-up novel, Center, along with the recorded mind of Raj Whitehall, are sent to the planet Visager to help boost that society to the point where it too can join what has now become Bellvue's multi-world Federation. This time, Center recruits two brothers, Jeffrey Farr and John Hosten, to help remake a world. Standing in their way is a nation of eugenically bred warriors called the Chosen, the strongest, most technologically advanced military force on the planet, who believe that all non-Chosen are merely slaves who haven't been caught yet.

Hafardine

The next two books also have Center & Raj in their overseer/advisor roles, assisting Adrian Gellert, whose brother Esmond also plays a pivotal role in bringing back civilization to Hafardine. It is based upon the fall of the Roman Republic. [Afterword, _The Tyrant_ ISBN 9-7434-7150-4]

Additional books/outlines

There was an outline for a book called "The Green Planet", which had implementation problems and was canned. The author states it was "probably a bad idea (no, it wasn't my idea, but I acquiesed); it's unlikely ever to be turned into a novel." [Afterword, _The Tyrant_ ISBN 9-7434-7150-4]

Also created is one other first-rate outline, based on an Ancient Egyptian model. [Afterword, _The Tyrant_ ISBN 9-7434-7150-4]

References

External links

* [http://www.scifan.com/series/universe.asp?UN_universeid=25 "Raj Whitehall Universe" listing] at SciFan
** [http://www.scifan.com/series/series.asp?SR_seriesid=208 Series listing for original series] at SciFan
** [http://www.scifan.com/series/series.asp?SR_seriesid=214 Series listing for follow-on series] at SciFan


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