The Art of War
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|The Art of War|
|Type||Novel/Serial (10 parts)|
|Author||Phaedra M. Weldon|
|First published||8 February 2005 - 14 August 2007|
|Era||Clan Invasion era|
|Timeline||26 September-12 November 3060|
|Followed by||(With Carrion Men)|
It chronicles what happened to Isis Marik when rogue troops attacked her on Hustaing, an event that sparked the Capellan-St. Ives War which would eventually see the Capellan Confederation reclaim their wayward province.
A later story by Phaedra Weldon, With Carrion Men, could arguably be regarded as a sequel. It continues the tale of Aris Sung and some other Warrior House Hiritsu members twelve years later, with some references to the events from The Art of War.
- 1 Plot summary
- 2 Featured Characters
- 3 Featured BattleTech
- 4 Notes
Book 1: Moral Law
- published 8 February 2005
|“||Isis Marik, daughter to the Captain General of the Free Worlds League, lost and hunted. This new serial by Phaedra M. Weldon starts the tale of Isis.||”|
Hoping to capture the Chancellor who—unbeknownst to them—is actually not even on the planet, rogue elements from the St. Ives Compact, namely the Blackwind Lancers, have attacked her limousine at the Quingliu convention center and killed most of the guards. Warrior House Hiritsu infantryman Li Wynn rescued Isis Marik from the immediate attack and they have escaped by hijacking a bread delivery truck.
However, at the onset of the story the truck has been stopped by enemy troops who have brought the city under their control. Li Wynn surrenders, buying time for Isis to sneak away. She pretends to be a worker from the truck to rebel Sergeant Richardson as she moves off. However, her purse is found in the truck, revealing her identity and sparking a search because she is almost as valuable as a captive as her fiancé. Isis runs and escapes immediate pursuit with the help of two local women, Jade Hollister and April Torsten, following a chance encounter.
- published 5 April 2005
|“||Far from being the Belle of the Ball, Isis Marik, one time heir to the FWL & Betrothed to the Celestial Wisdom, now hides on a world invaded by renegade forces.||”|
With April captured by the soldiers, Jade and an injured Isis drive to a daycare to pick up April's daughter. Richardson makes April call them on Jade's cell phone and informs Isis (who takes the call) that he knows where they are, and that he is now holding both April and Jade's brother David captive. The daycare turns out to be surrounded by 'Mechs, tanks and soldiers. Isis can persuade Jade not to hand her over to the soldiers, arguing that she is Jade's only bargaining chip. She also realizes that the Blackwind Lancers desperately need to capture her as a hostage lest their attack on Hustaing will invite a retaliation attack against the St. Ives Compact from the Confederation—something Sun-Tzu Liao is just looking for an excuse to do. Jade even suggests Isis may have been set up for exactly this purpose, but Isis refuses to believe it.
Jade's attempt to extract April's daughter from the daycare fails when a patrolling soldier finds Isis in the parked car, forcing her to flee and abandon Jade.
- published 19 June 2005
|“||Phaedra Weldon brings us the continuing story of Isis Marik and her run from the Blackwind Lancers.||”|
Jade was arrested but no sign is found of Isis after her sedan was shot off a bridge and crashed into the river (before the guards realized who was driving). Isis has actually survived the crash, but suffered more injury. After escaping from the sunken car in the dirty river she ends up in the living room of some residents with a nasty infection and is barely conscious.
Richardson is assigned to finding Isis at all costs by Captain Warner Doles, as the Blackwind Lancers have little chance to leave the planet alive without her as hostage. Having learned that the Hollisters are involved in illicit dealings he coerces Jade to recruit her brother for the task of helping him find Isis.
Meanwhile, Warrior House Hiritsu is trying to recapture the city of Quingliu from the Lancers. Aboard their DropShip Dainwu (landed outside the city) Aris Sung receives unofficial permission from House Master Ty Wu Non to find and rescue Isis on his own.
Book 2: Heaven
Part 1: Night and Day
- published 24 August 2005
|“||Hunted by both the Blackwind Lancers and her Capellan protectors, Isis Marik has vanished! Phaedra Weldon now returns us to Hustaing for the next stage in the adventures of a princess in trouble way over her head.||”|
Wounded, ill and delirious, Isis is hospitalized and drugged. Her benefactors want to evacuate her out of the city where the Lancers are searching for her. By coincidence Jade's brother David Hollister happens to be chosen as the driver, because he is experienced in such shady dealings.
Five days after the initial attack, Aris Sung inspects the convention center. In the ruined and beleaguered city and with gangs swarming the area he is in his element, calling back upon his street urchin past. He frees and befriends Robert Cheng, a member of the Zeng gang, who had been captured by the rival Yin gang. Robert does not trust Aris and leads him into a trap but fellow Hiritsu trooper Raven Clearwater who had been shadowing them rescues Aris. When Robert later reappears and gestures them to follow, Aris decides to do so hoping he may have made a contact with the locals after all. They learn that Isis was seen with Jade Hollister.
The Blackwind Lancers have meanwhile fortified the city and dug in. With Hiritsu forces massing outside, Force Leader Richardson can barely spare troops to search for Isis and increases the pressure on his captives, Jade and Li Wynn.
Part 2: Cold and Heat, Time and Seasons
- published 19 January 2006
|“||CAPTURED! Isis is taken once again. Once more, her destiny seems written for her, can this Princess find her way? Story by Phaedra Weldon.||”|
Captured by David Hollister when he learned of her identity, Isis learns that the Lancers are indeed trying to get hold of her and that various gangs might try to capture her for the money offered. She is increasingly frustrated by the fact that she is on the run instead of being proactive. David, who wants to exchange her for his captive sister, lectures Isis about her being just a catalyst for Sun-Tzu to start a war with the Compact but she still refuses to believe that.
Aris learns from Robert that the Lancers led by Richardson have captured Jade Hollister, and that David Hollister has Isis Marik and intends to exchange her for Jade.
Book 3: Earth
- published 20 June 2006
|“||"Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes." These factors are foremost on Isis Marik's mind, as the saga of her run from the Blackwind Lancers continues.||”|
A week of fighting House Hiritsu has taken a heavy toll on the entrenched Blackwind Lancers. To Richardson's surprise it had been Isis Marik herself who had called him up and arranged for an exchange, naming Shou Lao Mountain as the place. Several gangs are massing there as well hoping to capture Isis, including the murderous Fan-K'uei gang and Aris, Raven and the Zeng. Aris successfully frees Jade from the Lancer VTOL at the mountain top.
(Isis has in fact assumed leadership of several gangs together with David Hollister in an attempt of her own to rescue Jade. David's car had come under fire from enemy BattleMechs during their escape from the city and David fell unconscious when it veered off the road. After she saved David's life, Isis took the initiative and called Richardson to make a deal of her own, voiding any deals David may have made in the process).
In the chaotic multi-sided fighting between the Lancers, the two Hiritsu operatives, and various gangs with uncertain loyalties that soon ensues on the mountain top, Isis is eventually captured by the dreaded Fan-K'uei, with Jade, Aris and Raven in pursuit and David Hollister wounded.
- published 24 July 2007
|“||Aris Sung does not lose. But Isis Marik's captors are threatening to prove him wrong; the Fan K'uei are doing a very good job of blocking his way. In order to rescue Isis from her captors, Aris will need to take chances with life and death...||”|
Surrounded by at least six enemies who have taken Raven Clearwater hostage, Aris opens fire with both a laser and a Nakjama needler, downing all enemies save one behind him who in turn wounds Aris (lightly) just before being shot by Jade Hollister. Robert is also present and they briefly discuss that Isis was captured by Awun, the Fan-K'uei leader. Their talk is interrupted by none other than Richardson who offers a deal: He knows where Awun is taking Isis and David, and offers to help in exchange for anonymity in his superiors' folly to launch this attack. The "negotiations" between Richardson and the others go badly, resulting in Aris killing two more of Richardson's troopers, before they reach an understanding after all.
Isis is held captive together with David Hollister, who tells her that Awun's real name is Vincent Boudreaux Peed. The unattractive Vincent/Awun went to high school with the Hollisters, and developed a mad crush on the beautiful Jade, "the one thing he can't have", for she was the only one who treated him kindly. When she would not go out with him, Awun left school and became a particularly cruel gang leader, renowned for gross rape and murder.
Book 4: Commander
- published 27 July 2007
|“||Aris Sung has no choice but to trust in Richardson and his good graces, not if he wants to rescue Isis Marik from her captors. But he knows that Richardson will betray him at the earliest possible opportunity, knows that Richardson will try to kidnap Isis for his own purposes. But Richardson isn't the only one engaging in behind-the-scenes deals; the gang holding Isis has allies. Rescuing her will be harder than Aris had thought...||”|
By 20 October, Richardson's scouts have identified a warehouse where he suspects Isis is being held. He presents a battle plan to Aris and informs him that they will strike this night already, without verifying the intel further. At this, Aris simply walks away and begins to plan a rescue of his own. Richardson has in truth struck a deal with the Ch'in-Shu-Pao gang to plant evidence that will lead Aris and his party into a Fan-K'uei trap; his plan is to keep the various gangs occupied by pitting them against each other.
The captive Isis meanwhile begins to take initiative and by lucky coincidence actually manages to free herself and David Hollister from captivity, killing their guards in the process and picking up their weapons.
Shortly before midnight, Aris finds while watching from afar that the guards at the warehouse are dressed up as Fan-K'uei, but their jackets do not fit well. Jade confirms his suspicions when she identifies one of the men as a member of the Yins. Aris, Jade, Raven and Richard discuss the relationships among the gangs and Richardson, and Robert mentions to the astonished others that the Ch'in leader is Awun's sister while the Yins' leader is Awun's nephew—obviously it is Richardson who is being played for a fool by the gangs who unbeknownst to him actually have family ties.
Suddenly, Aris witnesses an unseed attacker in what seems to be a cloaking suit kill the false Fan-K'uei guards. Shortly afterwards, Richardson's forces attack the warehouse complex and chaos ensues.
- published 31 July 2007
|“||So far, everything has gone to Force Leader Richardson's plan. Even the gangs are keeping their hands off, as promised. But two dead guards provide proof positive that at least one kink has worked its way into the plan. It's not Aris Sung's handiwork—it can't be. So who else has joined the party... and what other roadblocks will they throw in Richardson's way?||”|
With Aris's rescue party led down a wrong path (towards a trap by Richardson's men) by false leads, Richardson's force enter the warehouse but when they reach Isis's cell they find it empty. Thinking that he was betrayed, Richardson orders his men to hunt for the next best hostage, Awun, instead. At the same time, Isis and David—wounded and ill—are moving through the apparently deserted complex. Aris and Robert, as well as Raven and Jade, also search the area and come across many dead bodies with slit throats, well aware that something is seriously amiss.
Isis and David run into Awun, who easily overpowers them, but then Awun is confronted by Richardson. Both accuse the other man of having broken their agreement and Richardson shoots Awun after a short exchange, only to be confronted by Aris Sung in turn. Their blade fight where they wound each other is interrupted by the arrival of Jade and Raven. Thinking the motionless David dead, Jade launches herself at Richardson. Isis shoots at Richardson, too, but accidentially hits Jade, killing her. She is then carried off by Raven.
Aris and Richardson continue their fight. Richardson gains the upper hand, but just before he can deliver a killing blow he is killed by an unseen person; Aris only sees a shimmering in the dark just like he saw through his binoculars earlier when the guards were killed. He sees the shimmer wait by Richardson's dead body, but Raven (carrying Isis) urges him to leave. On their way back they meet some thirty Zheng and Ch'in-Shu-Pao, with Robert and a diminutive woman leading them, but they are friendly and escort them away.
Book 5: Method and Discipline
- published 14 August 2007
|“|| Seven weeks is all Isis Marik spent on Hustaing. But for Isis, those seven weeks were a lifetime. She's finally leaving, returning to Sian in Aris Sung's company. But even though she's able to leave that hell behind, in many ways it will remain with her forever.
Nor is Isis the only Capellan haunted by ghosts of Hustaing...
On 12 November 3060, Isis Marik boards the Pearl of True Wisdom to leave Hustaing. She nearly collapses once she is aboard the ship and demands Aris escort her to her quarters (instead of the infirmary as suggested by him). He refuses, feeling that being alone with the Chancellor's fiancé in her quarters would be out of bounds for him. He does answer her questions about David (who is in a hospital now, and may eventually recover), Jade (whose ashes were scattered as the day began) and Robert (who has vanished). He also relates to her that Raven told him and David how Jade died—a Blackwind Lancer shot her at pointblank range and was in turn shot by Isis. Aris adds that this makes Isis a hero for the Hollister family.
Somewhat shocked over this fabrication, Isis retreats to her quarters with intense feelings of guilt. Eventually she recovers and begins to understand her survival as a duty to those who died, having matured throughout her ordeal. She also cooly admits to herself that it seems very likely that Sun-Tzu had really set her up to be killed.
Aris meanwhile talks to Ty Wo Non, who confirms that only Aris was (informally) allowed to try to rescue Isis Marik and that Raven Clearwater made the decision to join him by herself; none other were sent out. The identity of the mysterious operative who appeared as just a shimmer and who saved Aris (and Isis) from Richardson, then let Aris live, remains unresolved.
- Robert Cheng
- Raven Clearwater (WH Hiritsu)
- Warner Doles
- David Hollister
- Jade Hollister
- Isis Marik
- Ty Wu Non
- Erik Richardson (presented as "Richards" in chapter 9 of the novel Threads of Ambition)
- Aris Sung
- Li Wynn
- Lung Wang-class DropShip Pearl of True Wisdom (frequently referred to as Pearl of Wisdom or simply Pearl)
- Overlord-class DropShip Dainwu