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Old Aug 11 2016, 09:45 AM   #12
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
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Default Re: Relative size of major holds.

Firstly, I think you'd need some kind of standing army for that one to work and Anne's Pern seems to be much more medieval than that. The "garrison" would be little more than the local Lord Holder's personal bodyguard.
Anne has also made Pern without war as well as without religion. That makes problems in terms of making enough conflict to make the stories interesting. The norm before Fax seems to have been "One holder, One hold" and autonomy within the Holder's lands, which would suggest that the kind of tit for tat you suggest wouldn't have happened on Pern. That's why the other Conclave Holders won't act against Fax when Ruatha is threatened, they, and particularly Lord Kale of Ruatha, Lessa's father, simply don't believe there is such a thing as someone who wants more holds than their due. They have no history of one Lord Holder taking over more than one other hold by force, so there's no history of retaliation to free them either. Nor is there a history of the Holders working effectively together.
However, I think, under those medieval conditions, it could be very easy to find a traitor. You only need someone who thinks that one of the Lord Holder's judgements against him was unfair, or a cousin who thinks they should have inherited instead of the current Lord Holder, or some scrap over who gets to marry a heiress or an underage heir.
There is enormous scope for a particularly devious and manipulative female villain too - Anne tried it with Thella, but I'm thinking more of the scheming matriach type who rules through marrying off her family to heirs and controlling inter-hold business through them - much like Queen Victoria but in a more absolute monarch way.
Fax inherited his first minor hold, took over High Reaches in a duel, married Gemma to get Nabol, I don't remember how he got Crom, but there's mention somewhere of the wife and children escaping, and took Ruatha by stealth at night. It wouldn't actually have taken all that many men to scale the cliffs and murder the Lord Holder of a virtually unguarded Hold. It was defended from the front, not the back.
Having said all that, it seems to be assumed that the great holds have walls, gates, a watch-wher and a garrison of some sort. All of that won't keep out thread, but it will keep out other people, and why have them if there's never been any war?
Another reason why the scenario you suggest wouldn't work in Anne's Pern is that Red Hanrihan's Ford - Ruatha - is her hero hold all the way through. Bitra and Nabol are more likely protagonists, they're both painted as villains by Anne and you'd have the advantage that neither are described in too much detail in Anne's books, so you wouldn't be treading on toes.
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