here. Both suspect that the Merseians and their agent, Aycharaych, know of this historical analysis. In fact, the datholch Ydwyr the Seeker echoes Desai:
"'The breakdown of legitimate authority into weakness or oppression - which are two aspects of the same thing, the change of Hands into Heads - is a late stage of the fatal disease.'"
-Poul Anderson, Young Flandry (New York, 2010), p. 331.
Desai does not use the metaphor of a disease but does speak of a process with stages and implies that the loss of legitimacy is a later stage. What Ydwyr calls Hands becoming Heads, I call accountable leaders becoming despotic rulers. This occurs when a revolution goes wrong or when a revolution happens, depending on your view of revolution - and I am not going to discuss that here! I see that I have quoted Ydwyr on this before.
Desai wants to come to a comparable understanding of the Merseians. Might they also already be decadent? But what would that mean for them? We, the readers, know, with the benefit of historical hindsight, that their Roidhunate does not succeed in replacing the Empire after the latter has fallen and we have speculated on two possible causes of the Merseians' decline:
resentment of their racial supremacism among their subject races/junior partners;
demoralization caused by the failure of the Starkad scheme and of Magnusson's rebellion.