This name of this article is conjectural.
Raid on Sorpen
Part of the Idiran-Culture War
Place Sorpen
Result Idiran victory.
Bora Horza Gobuchul escapes.
The Culture defeat Idiran forces.
The Culture
Gerontocracy of Sorpen
Idiran Empire
GCU Nervous Energy The Hand of God 137
Casualties and losses
Five cities destroyedThe Hand of God 137 (captured)

The Raid on Sorpen occurred during the Idiran-Culture War in 1331 CE. The Idiran Empire dispatched the cruiser The Hand of God 137 to rescue Bora Horza Gobuchul from the Gerontocracy of Sorpen; the Changer was needed to capture a Culture Mind on Schar's World. During the operation, the cruiser was intercepted and captured by the GCU Nervous Energy. However, Horza managed to escape and eventually find his way to Schar's World.


The Idirans sought to capture a young Culture Mind taking refuge on Schar's World, a Dra'Azon Planet of the Dead.[1] The Mind had escaped from a Culture factory ship destroyed by the Idirans.[2] After an armed Idiran expedition to Schar's World was destroyed, they decided to use Horza to undertake a mission to the planet instead. Horza had once worked as a caretaker on Schar's World, and it was believed the Dra'Azon overseer would permit his entry.[1]

At the time, Horza was undertaking a covert mission to infiltrate the Gerontocracy of Sorpen. He was captured by the Gerontocracy with the aid of Culture Special Circumstancer Perosteck Balveda and sentenced to death.[3] If not for his importance to the mission to Schar's World, the Idirans would have allowed him to be executed.[1]


Assembling the missionEdit

The Idiran Admiralty was reluctant to approve the rescue mission. Only The Hand of God 137, a Type 5 light cruiser, could be spared from the 93rd Fleet, even though Naval Intelligence knew that a Culture Mountain-class GCU was near or in the system; the Mountain-class was superior to the light cruiser. The Admiralty acceded only when assurances were made that the strike force would attempt to capture Balveda. With the mission approved, the Admiralty also ordered the destruction of the cities of De'aychanbie, Vinch, Easna-Yowon, Izilere and Ylbar by fusion bombs. The fleet's spy-master Querl, Xoralundra, was aboard the cruiser to brief Horza upon his rescue.[1]

The GCU, Nervous Energy, hid in the surface layers of Sorpen's primary and went undetected. Having entered the system, The Hand of God 137 expected the GCU to be in intergalactic space waiting to intercept the cruiser as it returned to the fleet. If anything went wrong, the fleet would be nine hours away.[1]

Attack on SorpenEdit

Four days after the escape of the Mind, The Hand of God 137 arrived at Sorpen and deployed troops and gun-platforms to the surface. The Changer was rescued as the execution process neared completion and returned to the ship immediately to be briefed on his new mission by Xoralundra.[1]

Balveda used a memoryform plasma weapon to wound at least one medjel before being captured by the Idirans. Her companion knife missile self-destructed to avoid capture.[1]

The spy-master briefed Horza on the new mission while waiting for Balveda to be brought up.[1]

Xoralundra was conscious of the threat from Nervous Energy. Once Balveda was aboard and the cities destroyed, the Querl ordered the cruiser to immediately break orbit for the fleet. This was over the Captain's objections as the speedy withdrawal prevented the recovery of all the gun-platforms, a task that would have taken less than ten more minutes.[1]

Attack from the starEdit

Nervous Energy struck as The Hand of God 137 got underway.[1] The GCU signalled to the Culture its intention to capture the cruiser.[4] The Idirans were taken by surprise, and key personnel began to abandon the ship to avoid death or capture. Horza escaped in a Rairch suit and a personal warp unit. Xoralundra ordered Balveda killed before escaping as well.[1] Balveda killed the trooper send to kill her.[5]

The Culture lost contact with Nervous Energy temporarily during the engagement, and the GCU was thought lost.[4] The GCU succeeded in capturing the cruiser with combat drones and rescuing Balveda.[5] It returned to the Culture with The Hand of God 137.[6]


Xoralundra and two officers escaped the cruiser; they landed on Sorpen and were briefly interned. The 93rd Fleet arrived after the departure of the GCU and retrieved the three Idirans for a nominal ransom.[7]

Horza was captured by Kraiklyn's Free Company. They were only interested in his equipment. He was forced to earn a place in the Company by killing one of the existing members; the alternative was being killed himself.[8] He later took control of the Company and used them to get to Schar's World.[5]

The Culture calculated that Horza would go to Schar's World and capture the Mind. Balveda was dispatched to stop him.[6] The Culture agent attempted to infiltrate Kraiklyn's Free Company at Vavatch Orbital, but was recognized by Horza and captured. She was also taken to Schar's World with the Company.[5]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Consider Phlebas, chapter 2
  2. Consider Phlebas, prologue
  3. Consider Phlebas, chapter 1
  4. 4.0 4.1 Consider Phlebas, State of play: one
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Consider Phlebas, chapter 8
  6. 6.0 6.1 Consider Phlebas, State of play: two
  7. Consider Phlebas, Dramatis personae
  8. Consider Phlebas, Chapter 3

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