Tag Archives: war

The Arsenal at Springfield by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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The Arsenal at Springfield

This is the Arsenal. From floor to ceiling,
      Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms;
But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing
      Startles the villages with strange alarms.
Ah! what a sound will rise, how wild and dreary,
      When the death-angel touches those swift keys!
What loud lament and dismal Miserere
      Will mingle with their awful symphonies!
I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus,
      The cries of agony, the endless groan,
Which, through the ages that have gone before us,
      In long reverberations reach our own.
On helm and harness rings the Saxon hammer,
      Through Cimbric forest roars the Norseman’s song,
And loud, amid the universal clamor,
      O’er distant deserts sounds the Tartar gong.
I hear the Florentine, who from his palace
      Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din,
And Aztec priests upon their teocallis
      Beat the wild war-drums made of serpent’s skin;
The tumult of each sacked and burning village;
      The shout that every prayer for mercy drowns;
The soldiers’ revels in the midst of pillage;
      The wail of famine in beleaguered towns;
The bursting shell, the gateway wrenched asunder,
      The rattling musketry, the clashing blade;
And ever and anon, in tones of thunder
      The diapason of the cannonade.
Is it, O man, with such discordant noises,
      With such accursed instruments as these,
Thou drownest Nature’s sweet and kindly voices,
      And jarrest the celestial harmonies?
Were half the power, that fills the world with terror,
      Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
Given to redeem the human mind from error,
      There were no need of arsenals or forts:
The warrior’s name would be a name abhorred!
      And every nation, that should lift again
Its hand against a brother, on its forehead
      Would wear forevermore the curse of Cain!
Down the dark future, through long generations,
      The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease;
And like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations,
      I hear once more the voice of Christ say, “Peace!”
Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals
      The blast of War’s great organ shakes the skies!
But beautiful as songs of the immortals,
      The holy melodies of love arise.
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Book Review: Cobra War, Book 1: Cobra Alliance by Timothy Zahn

Timothy Zahn is the author of many books, including Star Wars: Heir to the Empire, Star Wars: Dark Force Rising, and Star Wars: The Last Command. He is the author whom Star Wars expanded universe readers have to thank for Mara Jade and Grand Admiral Thrawn, not to mention Mara’s marriage to Luke Skywalker. He wrote Star Wars: Specter of the Past and Vision of the Future specifically to “get them together.”

This is how I became acquainted with Mr. Zahn’s writing, reading his Star Wars fiction. But I have read some of his other work. And today’s post focuses on a book from one of his own series, the Cobra serials, set on worlds humans have colonized.

Cobras are humans who have been mechanically modified to be living weapons. Becoming a Cobra is completely voluntary; no one is forced to become one. When one chooses to become a Cobra, they undergo a procedure which implants various guns and other technology in the men’s bodies. Thus they are able to infiltrate enemy lines and orchestrate guerilla attacks, then disappear again when they have wreaked some damaging sabotage or other operations. A Cobra has the perfect cover; how are you supposed to tell him apart from a normal human man? Their implants are so well placed they do not obviously stick out.

Most Cobras are male. But there is one exception. Jasmine ‘Jin’ Moreau Broom is a Cobra. She has been for several years. What is more, she is married to another Cobra and is the mother of three (now grown) children: Merrik, Lorne, and Jody. Merrick and Lorne have followed both their mother and father into the Cobra service; Jody is working on a science project to help colonize the one Cobra world that seemingly cannot be conquered by regular terraforming means. And Jody is in a real hurry to do this.

Why?

Well, you see, readers, the Cobras have a problem. “Making” Cobras and training them to do their jobs is expensive. And Cobras need something to fight. They react rather forcefully when attacked, even by low level criminals. Their implants really do not distinguish well between a punk with a knife and a Troft soldier. (Trofts are the sentient, bird-like aliens in this series. They have something of a peace treaty between themselves and the Cobra worlds, not to mention Earth and its other colonies. But there are some Trofts who would like to resume hostilities with the humans – NOW.)

Naturally, with most of the Cobra worlds tamed, there are politicians who want to stop paying for them. They want to either cut the funding for the Cobra programs or stop ‘production’ of Cobras altogether. Jin, her husband Paul, their children, and the rest of her family are all rather put out with this push to decommission the Cobra program. After all, the best defense is a good offense, something they are well aware of.

Then this problem is compounded by a second dilemma. Years ago, when Jin was a newbie Cobra, she went on a mission to another human-colonized planet – but not a member of the Cobra worlds – called Quasama. The mission was a failure. Jin’s whole team died when their craft crashed and burned; she alone survived. The locals were a bit of a pain and it was basically luck that got Jin offworld. Now, a mysterious message has arrived, asking her to return to Quasama.

But doing so is an act of treason. After her mission, all contact with Quasama was forbidden. Jin, however, has to know what is going on. With only Merrick to accompany her, Jin sneaks back to Quasama –

And finds that war has come to that planet – from the Trofts! And the aliens’ next targets are the Cobra worlds!

Cobra Alliance is a GREAT book. Like all of the work I have seen Zahn do, he does not skimp on detail. He is the one sci-fi writer I have read who is extremely exact in his science. I do not know how feasible any of the technology in his stories is, but he describes it very well. I guess it comes from his majoring in the technological sciences. Research probably helps him, too.

Another plus for this book is that Jin is an amazing, wonderful character. I cannot help but compare her to Princess Leia Organa Solo. She reminds me very strongly of our favorite Princess – with lots of guns and tricks hidden in her body instead of Force-sensitivity and a lightsaber! Jin is a marvelous character. I think she is one of Zahn’s best characters ever!

            Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian