Miracles to order was a fine way for the paratimers to get mining concessions--but Nature can sometimes pull counter-miracles. And so can men, for that matter....
to get grain. He got his army chopped up, and only about a quarter of them got back, with no grain. You ask me, I'd say that Labdurg framed it to happen that way. He advised Kurchuk to invade, in the first place, and I mentioned my suspicion that Chombrog, the Chuldun Emperor, is planning to move in on the Hulgun kingdoms. Well, what would be smarter than to get Kurchuk's army smashed in advance?"
"How did the defeat occur?" Verkan Vall asked. "Any suspicion of treachery?"
"Nothing you could put your finger on, except that the Jumduns seemed to have pretty good intelligence about Kurchuk's invasion route and battle plans. It could have been nothing worse than stupid tactics on Kurchuk's part. See, these Hulguns, and particularly the Zurb Hulguns, are spearmen. They fight in a fairly thin line, with heavy-armed infantry in front and light infantry with throwing-spears behind. The nobles fight in light chariots, usually at the center of the line, and that's where they were at this Battle of Jorm.
I read anything by Piper because when he's at his best he's very good. This is one of his alternate time channel tales, and if the characters were more sympatico—if the escapism factor were higher, in other words—it would be good.
As it is, only fair but worth a read.
A very '50s attitude colors this story, and makes it cynical in its plot. It's almost an Ayn Rand attitude. Miners from one universe set themselves up as priests of a pagan religion in a parallel universe in order to mine uranium and ship it back to their universe. Everything they do and preach is fake.
A rather nasty rival god's sect shows up and first steals their congregation, then kidnaps some priests. Something dramatic needs to be done.
Everyone is male in the story, and the plot left me feeling like I had overheard some sleazy backroom plan to sabotage a business enemy.
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