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By Heresies Distressed (Safehold Series #3)

By Heresies Distressed (Safehold Series #3)

4.3 171
by David Weber

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In David Weber's By Heresies Distressed, the battle for the soul of the planet Safehold has begun.

The Kingdom of Charis and the Kingdom of Chisholm have joined together, pledged to stand against the tyranny of a corrupt Church. The youthful Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm has wed King Cayleb of Charis, forging a single dynasty, a single empire, dedicated


In David Weber's By Heresies Distressed, the battle for the soul of the planet Safehold has begun.

The Kingdom of Charis and the Kingdom of Chisholm have joined together, pledged to stand against the tyranny of a corrupt Church. The youthful Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm has wed King Cayleb of Charis, forging a single dynasty, a single empire, dedicated to the defense of human freedom. Crowned Empress of that empire, Sharleyan has found in Cayleb's arms the love she never dared hope for in a "marriage of state." In Cayleb's cause, his defiance of the ruthless Group of Four who govern mother Church, she has found the task to which she can commit her mind and her courage. It is a cause for which she was born.

Yet there are things Sharleyan still does not know. Secrets Cayleb has not been permitted to share, even with her. Secrets like the true story of humanity on Safehold. Like the intricate web of lies, deception, and fabricated "religion" which have chained humanity for almost a thousand years. Like the existence of the genocidal alien Gbaba, waiting to complete mankind's destruction should humans ever attract their attention once more. Like the existence of a young woman, Nimue Alban, nine hundred years dead, whose heart, mind, and memories live on within the android body of the warrior-monk she knows as Merlin.

And so Empress Sharleyan faces the the great challenge of her life unaware of all that task truly entails...or of how the secrets the man who loves her cannot share may threaten all they have achieved between them...and her own life.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Editorial Reviews

In King Cayleb of Charis, Chisholm's young Queen Sharleyan has found not only the love of her life but also her monarch she will wed to unite two kingdoms. With that marriage comes a vital new purpose; the challenge to forever rid a repressive church of its domination and corruption. Sharleyan's commitments are real, but at first she pursues them not knowing long-held secrets that will imperil her honest quest for human freedom. In the third volume of David Weber's Safehold series, the battle for the soul of the planet is truly joined.
Publishers Weekly

In this tangled follow-up to 2008's By Schism Rent Asunder, the corrupt Church of God Awaiting has ruthlessly suppressed technology on the planet Safehold for the past 800 years. Merlin Athrawes, a cybernetic avatar bodyguard serving the king of Charis, has introduced a sequence of innovations that allow the united island kingdoms to defeat the Church's agents, but the Church's rulers soon adopt the very technology they proscribe. Their greater resources, combined with a fanatical fifth column not averse to assassination, make the long-term prospects of the "heretical" empire appear bleak, especially as Charis must pause to pacify new territories while responding to recent massacres. The personalities and motivations of the numerous characters are particularly well drawn and credible, and Weber makes grand strategies and political machinations easily accessible to casual readers. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

For political reasons-but also with genuine love and respect-Cayleb of Charis and Sharleyan of Chisholm have united as corulers of their lands. Now the Temple Lands, home to a reactionary Church that suppresses new technologies, must intervene or face a rebellion that could lead to their overthrow. Set in the distant world of Safehold (e.g., Off Armageddon Reef), Weber's new generational saga follows Cayleb, Sharleyan, and the Artificial Personality Merlin Athrawes as they try to convince their subjects that everything they know and believe is wrong. The popular author of the Honor Harrington series writes skillfully about naval battles and political intrigue, serving up another fascinating chapter in an sf epic with medieval trappings. Series fans will demand.

—Jackie Cassada
Kirkus Reviews
Weber (At All Costs, 2007, etc.) delivers the third installment in his ongoing Safehold saga. In the first two books, the planet Safehold was colonized by the last remnants of humanity, fleeing an Earth destroyed by aliens. They forged a society dominated by religion, to prevent the building of new technology that might attract the alien threat. Dissenters, however, created a cybernetic being, Merlin, who awakened some 800 years later and helped the nonconforming kingdom of Charis develop technology and fight against the powerful Church of God Awaiting. In this volume, Charis and its allies battle Corisande, a Church-assisted princedom. Like its predecessors in the Safehold series, the novel paints a vast, stunningly complex political and military tapestry, with wonderful battle scenes that compensate for occasionally overlong stretches of dialogue. Weber's portrayal of the Church and criticism of organized religion also continue to make these books interesting. That said, readers shouldn't pick up this volume without first reading Off Armageddon Reef (2007) and By Schism Rent Asunder (2008); the glossary and list of characters bringing newbies up to speed spans 15 pages. Initiates will be more than satisfied by this ambitious fantasy variant on the timeworn tale of a monolithic world institution challenged by reformers.
From the Publisher

“* Gripping.... Shifting effortlessly between battles among warpspeed starships and among oar-powered galleys,Weber brings the political maneuvering, past and future technologies, and vigorous protagonists together for a cohesive, engrossing whole.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, STARRED REVIEW ON OFF ARMAGEDDON REEF

“* A superb cast of characters and plenty of action....This fine book gives new luster to Weber's reputation.” —BOOKLIST, STARRED REVIEW ON BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER

“* Along with its predecessor, this second installment of an important SF saga belongs in all libraries. Highly recommended.” —LIBRARY JOURNAL, STARRED REVIEW ON BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER

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Tom Doherty Associates
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Safehold Series , #3
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By Heresies Distressed

By David Weber, Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2009 David Weber
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-5643-7


The Temple, City of Zion, The Temple Lands

The snow outside the Temple was deep for October, even for the city of Zion, and more fell steadily, thickly, only to be whipped into mad swirls by the bitter wind roaring in off Lake Pei. That wind piled thick slabs of broken lake ice on the bitterly cold shore, swept dancing snow demons through the streets, sculpted knife-edged snowdrifts against every obstruction, and chewed at any exposed skin with icy fangs. Throughout the city, its poorest inhabitants huddled close to any source of warmth they could find, but for far too many, there was precious little of that to be had, and parents shivered, watching the weather — and their children — with worry-puckered eyes as they thought about the endless five-days stretching out between them and the half-forgotten dream of springtime's warmth.

There was no cold inside the Temple, of course. Despite the soaring ceiling of its enormous dome, there weren't even any chilly breezes. The structure reared by the archangels themselves in the misty dawn of Creation maintained its perfect interior temperature with total disdain for what the merely mortal weather of the world might be inflicting upon its exterior.

The luxurious personal suites assigned to the members of the Council of Vicars were all magnificent beyond any mortal dream, but some were even more magnificent than others. The suite assigned to Grand Inquisitor Zhaspahr Clyntahn was a case in point. It was a corner apartment on the Temple's fifth floor. Two entire sides of its main sitting room and dining room were windows — the miraculous, unbreakable, almost totally invisible windows of the archangels' handiwork. Windows which were completely transparent from within, yet flashed back exterior sunlight like mirrored walls of finely burnished silver, and which were utterly impervious to the heat — or cold — which passed through and radiated from windows of mortal glass. Paintings and statuary, all chosen with a connoisseur's exquisite discernment, added their own luxurious beauty to the suite's interior, with its thick carpets, indirect, sourceless lighting, and perfect temperature.

It was far from the first time Archbishop Wyllym Rayno had visited the Grand Inquisitor's personal chambers. Rayno was the Archbishop of Chiang-wu in the Harchong Empire. He was also the Adjutant of the Order of Schueler, which made him Clyntahn's executive officer within the Office of Inquisition. As a result, Rayno was privy to far more of Clyntahn's innermost thought than anyone else, including his colleagues among the Group of Four, yet there were places inside Clyntahn where even Rayno had never been. Places the archbishop had never wanted to be.

"Come in, Wyllym — come in!" Clyntahn said expansively as the Temple Guardsman always stationed outside his chamber opened the door for Rayno.

"Thank you, Your Grace," Rayno murmured, stepping past the guardsman.

Clyntahn extended his ring of office, and Rayno bent to kiss it, then straightened and tucked his hands into the voluminous sleeves of his cassock. The remnants of a truly enormous meal lay strewn in ruins across the large dining table, and Rayno carefully avoided noticing that there had been two place settings. Most vicars practiced at least some discretion when it came to entertaining their mistresses within the Temple's sacred precincts. Everyone knew it happened anyway, yet there were standards to be maintained, appearances to be satisfied.

But Zhaspahr Clyntahn wasn't "most vicars." He was the Grand Inquisitor, the keeper of Mother Church's conscience, and there were times when even Rayno, who had served him for decades, wondered exactly what passed through his mind. How the same man could be so zealous when it came to rooting out the sins of others even while he indulged his own.

Fair's fair, Wyllym, the archbishop told himself. He may be a zealot, and he's definitely self-indulgent, but at least he's not hypocritical among his peers. And he does draw a remarkably sharp line between sins which are merely venal and those which constitute mortal offenses in the eyes of Schueler and God. He can be as irritatingly sanctimonious as anyone you've ever seen, but you've never heard him condemning any of his fellow vicars for weaknesses of the flesh. Spiritual weaknesses, yes; he can be utterly ruthless where they're concerned, but he's remarkably ... understanding where those perquisites of high office are concerned.

He wondered who tonight's visitor might be. All of Clyntahn's appetites were huge, and he craved novelty. Indeed, few women could hold his attention for long, and once his interest in them waned, he tended to turn to another with sometimes startling abruptness, although he was never ungenerous when he transferred his interest to another.

Rayno, as the Inquisition's adjutant, was well aware that there were those within the Temple's hierarchy who disapproved — in some cases, strenuously, if quietly — of Clyntahn's addiction to the pleasures of the flesh. No one was likely to say so openly, of course, and Rayno had very quietly quashed a few reports of condemnatory comments before they ever reached the Grand Inquisitor's ears. Still, it was only natural for there to be a certain ... unhappiness. Some of it could probably be put down to pure envy, although he was willing to concede that there was genuine disapproval of such sensuality behind much of it. Indeed, there had been times when Rayno had found himself feeling much the same sort of disapproval. But the archbishop had concluded long ago, even before Clyntahn was elevated to his present office, that all men had flaws, and that the greater the man, the deeper his flaws were likely to run. If Clyntahn restricted his particular faults to the pursuit of fleshly pleasure, surely that was far better than what Rayno had observed in the occasional Inquisitor who found himself using the cover of his high office to indulge his own taste for unnecessary cruelty.

"Thank you for coming so promptly, Wyllym," Clyntahn continued as he ushered the archbishop to one of the Temple's incredibly comfortable chairs. He smiled as he settled Rayno and personally poured him a glass of wine. The Grand Inquisitor's normal table manners generally took second place — or even third — to the gusto he brought to food and wine, yet he could be an incredibly gracious and charming host when he chose to be. Nor was that charm false. It simply never occurred to him to extend it to anyone outside the circle of intimates he relied upon and fully trusted. Or, at least, trusted as much as he ever trusted anyone else.

"I realize your message didn't seem to indicate any immediate urgency, Your Grace. I had business in the Temple to attend to anyway, however, so it seemed best to respond to your summons promptly."

"I only wish I had a dozen archbishops and bishops who were as reliable as you are," Clyntahn told him. "Langhorne! I'd settle for six!"

Rayno smiled and inclined his head in a small bow, acknowledging the compliment. Then he sat back, nursing his wineglass in both hands while he gazed attentively at his superior.

Clyntahn was looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows at the swirling snow and wind. His expression was almost rapt as he contemplated the icy torrent of white for the better part of three minutes. Then, finally, he turned back to Rayno and leaned back in his own chair.

"Well!" he said, with the air of someone getting down to business at last. "I'm sure you've read all the reports about the seizures of Charisian merchant ships month before last."

He arched one eyebrow slightly, and Rayno nodded.

"Good! I was certain you would have. And since you have, you're undoubtedly aware that there were certain ... difficulties."

"Yes, Your Grace," Rayno acknowledged as Clyntahn paused.

Of course the archbishop was aware that there'd been "difficulties." Everyone in Zion was aware of that much! What had been supposed to be an orderly seizure of unarmed, or at least only lightly armed, merchant ships as the first step in closing all mainland ports against the all-pervasive Charisian merchant marine had turned into something else entirely. Not everywhere, perhaps, but what the Grand Inquisitor was pleased to call "difficulties" was something the Charisians were going to call a "massacre" when word of August's events in the Kingdom of Delferahk's port city of Ferayd reached them.

Actually, Rayno corrected himself, what they're undoubtedly already calling it, given the fact that at least some of their ships got away and most certainly sailed straight to Tellesberg. The archbishop shuddered at the thought of what the schismatic Charisian propagandists were going to do with that many civilian casualties. One thing's for sure, he thought grimly, they aren't going to minimize what happened.

And that, Rayno realized, was what was truly on Clyntahn's mind. The Grand Inquisitor was speaking less of the fatalities involved than he was of the need to put the proper context on the part the Inquisition had played in the seizures. Few of those seizures had gone as badly awry as the ones in Delferahk — or not, at least, in the same way. Personally, Rayno found the implications of what had happened at Siddar City even more disturbing, in many ways. According to the Inquisition's agents there, everything had been proceeding far more smoothly than in Ferayd ... right up to the moment, at least, when, for some unknown reason, every Charisian merchant ship had simultaneously decided to ... expedite its departure. It was undoubtedly a mere coincidence that they'd decided to do that before Lord Protector Greyghor had gotten around to formally issuing the orders to implement the Church's instructions to seize them.

Of course it was.

There was no proof of who'd warned the Charisians, yet whoever it was, it had to have been someone deep in the Lord Protector's confidence. The only real question in Rayno's mind was whether the informant had acted solely on his own, or if Lord Protector Greyghor himself had made the decision to betray the Church's trust. Given the fact that his staff had somehow been unable to locate their inexplicably missing head of state and deliver Clyntahn's instructions to him for at least twelve hours, Rayno rather suspected that he wouldn't have cared for the answer to his own question if someone had provided it.

Whoever the traitor might have been, he hadn't acted entirely alone, no matter whose idea it had been. Siddar City wasn't the only Siddarmarkian port where every Charisian merchant ship had mysteriously departed mere hours before they were supposed to be sequestered by the Republic's authorities. The possibilities that suggested were far more unpalatable than a few score of dead Charisian sailors in Ferayd.

Not that we can expect everyone else on the Council — or even within the Order! — to see things that way, Rayno thought grumpily. The name of Samyl Wylsynn came forcefully to mind, and the adjutant reminded himself barely in time not to grimace. Not that Clyntahn would have disagreed with his subordinate's unloving thoughts where Vicar Samyl was concerned. If he decided Rayno's expression indicated the archbishop's disapproval of the decision to close the mainland ports to Charis, however, it could have unfortunate consequences.

"Well," Clyntahn said again, grasping the thread of the conversation once more, "as you and I have already discussed, it's essential that Mother Church put the true version of events into the hands of the faithful before any Charisian lies can take root there. I believe that may be especially important in this instance."

"Of course, Your Grace. How may I be of assistance?"

"It's taken longer than I could have wished," the Grand Inquisitor told him frankly, "but Trynair and Duchairn have just about agreed upon the text of a proclamation setting forth what happened, especially in Ferayd, and granting martyr's status to those murdered by the Charisians. It's still weaker than I would prefer. It stops short of declaring Holy War, for example. I suppose it does set the groundwork for the eventual declaration, but certain parties are still waffling. I think Duchairn actually entertains the belief — or the hope, at least — that this can all be patched up somehow. Deep inside, though, even he has to know he's wrong. It's gone too far. The Inquisition and Mother Church simply cannot allow this sort of direct challenge of God's will and His plan for the souls of men to pass unpunished. And the chastisement must be severe, Wyllym. Severe enough to prevent anyone else from even contemplating ever following in their footsteps."

Rayno simply nodded. There was very little new in what Clyntahn had just said — aside from the confirmation that the proclamation the adjutant had expected for five-days was approaching readiness. On the other hand, as much as Clyntahn enjoyed explaining things, it was unlikely he'd recapped all that history without a specific purpose in mind.

"I have to confess that the thing which is preying most strongly upon my own mind just now, Wyllym, isn't those damnable Charisians' open defiance. Oh, obviously that's going to have to be dealt with, but at least Cayleb and Staynair were rash enough to come out into the open. They've declared their allegiance to the pernicious doctrines Shan-wei is using to split Mother Church, marked themselves for the Church's justice and God's vengeance. In the fullness of time, they'll receive that justice and vengeance in full measure, too.

"But what happened in Siddarmark ... that's another story entirely, Wyllym. Someone very highly placed in the Republic's government must have alerted the Charisians. And while I'm fully aware of all the diplomatic niceties which prevent Zahmsyn from coming right out and taxing Greyghor with responsibility, there's not much question in my mind as to who bears the responsibility. Even if he didn't give the specific order himself — and I wouldn't bet a mug of flat beer on that possibility! — it had to be someone very close to him, and there are no indications he's even remotely close to identifying the culprit, much less punishing him. That sort of insidious rot, the kind that hides behind a façade of loyalty and reverence, is deadly dangerous. Left to itself, hiding in the shadows, the infection will only grow more and more corrupt until we find ourselves with a second, or a third, or even a fourth 'Church of Charis' on our hands."

"I understand, Your Grace," Rayno murmured when the Grand Inquisitor paused once more. And the adjutant was beginning to understand, too. Had the "culprit" in question been found anywhere except in the inner circles of the Siddarmarkian government, Clyntahn wouldn't simply have been concerned about any future "rot." He would have been demanding the head of whoever had done it. Unfortunately, pressing Siddarmark too hard at this particular time was ... contraindicated. The last thing the Church wanted was to engineer a marriage between Siddarmark's pikemen and Cayleb of Charis' navy.

"Unfortunately," Clyntahn continued, as if he'd been reading Rayno's mind (which wasn't something the adjutant was completely prepared to rule out as a possibility), "if Greyghor can't — or won't — identify the responsible party, there's very little we can do about it from the outside. For now, at least."

"I take it from what you've just said that you've been working on a means to change that, Your Grace?"

Rayno's tone was merely politely inquisitive, and Clyntahn snorted a grunting laugh as the adjutant arched his eyebrows delicately.

"Actually, I have," he acknowledged, "and the fact that Siddarmark is so stubbornly attached to its 'republican' traditions is part of my thinking."

"Indeed, Your Grace?" This time Rayno cocked his head to the side and crossed his legs as he awaited the Grand Inquisitor's explanation.

"One of the things that makes Greyghor so damnably stiff-necked and defiant behind that mask of piety and obedience of his is his belief that the voting citizens of Siddarmark support his policies. And, to give Shan-wei her due, he's pretty much been right about that. That's one of the considerations which has prevented us from turning up the pressure on him the way we really ought to have done long ago. But I rather doubt that public opinion in Siddarmark is quite as firmly united in approval of this schism of Charis' as Greyghor may think it is. And if, in fact, his precious voters disapprove of Charis and of the things he's willing to do behind the scenes in support of the schismatics, then I suspect he'll change his tune."

"That sounds eminently sensible to me, Your Grace," Rayno said, nodding his head. "Exactly how do we ... reshape that public opinion in our favor, though?"

"Over the next few days," Clyntahn said, his tone a bit oblique, his eyes once again straying to the white maelstrom of the October blizzard, "several of the Charisians seized when their vessels were impounded will be arriving here in Zion. Actually, they'll be arriving here at the Temple itself."


Excerpted from By Heresies Distressed by David Weber, Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Copyright © 2009 David Weber. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

David Weber is a science fiction phenomenon and the author of the Safehold series, including Off Armageddon Reef, By Schism Rent Asunder, and A Mighty Fortress. His popular Honor Harrington and Honorverse novels—including Mission of Honor, At All Costs, and Torch of Freedom—are New York Times bestsellers and can't come out fast enough for his devoted readers. His other top-selling science fiction novels include Out of the Dark, the Dahak books and the Multiverse books, written with Linda Evans. He has also created an epic SF adventure series in collaboration with John Ringo, including We Few. His novels have regularly been Main Selections of the Science Fiction Book Club. Weber has a bachelor's degree from Warren Wilson College, and attended graduate school in history at Appalachian State University. He lives in South Carolina.

David Weber is a science fiction phenomenon. His popular Honor Harrington and Honorverse novels—including Mission of Honor, At All Costs, and Torch of Freedom—are New York Times bestsellers and can't come out fast enough for his devoted readers. He is also the author of the Safehold series, including Off Armageddon Reef, By Schism Rent Asunder, By Heresies Distressed and A Mighty Fortress. His other top-selling science fiction novels include Out of the Dark, the Dahak books and the Multiverse books, written with Linda Evans. He has also created an epic SF adventure series in collaboration with John Ringo, including We Few. His novels have regularly been Main Selections of the Science Fiction Book Club. Weber has a bachelor’s degree from Warren Wilson College, and attended graduate school in history at Appalachian State University. He lives in South Carolina.

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By Heresies Distressed (Safehold Series #3) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 171 reviews.
SteveTheDM More than 1 year ago
Unlike most of Weber's books, this one *didn't* climax in a huge battle. And despite the fact that I *love* Weber's battles, this was still an wonderful book. It's book three of his Safehold series (don't read this without reading the prior two), and Weber is really hitting his stride with the characters, the world, and the situation that he's stuck them all in. As a one-sentence summary, By Heresies Distressed is essentially the post-wedding consolidation of the new Empire of Charis, and the conquest of Corisande. There are certainly *some* battle scenes, and *some* technological superiority going on, but this is primarily a book that tells a story of political drama. If you had told me that politics what what the book was about before I'd started, I would have had serious reservations about starting it. But the truth is that it was hard to put down. Weber did a fantastic job of connecting all the dots and making a real *story* about what was going on. I was very impressed, and I'm eagerly looking forward to the next in the series. 5 of 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A horse stood up and opened her eyes. She blinked and looked around the thicket taking in the scene. She smiled and struggled to trot away. She groaned and trotted five feet away smiling nonstop. She giggled and rolled. Her mom watched a happy feeling bubbling in her belly. She smiled as she thought"i have my first foal and shes a girl!"
carl-larsen More than 1 year ago
i tried, i really did, but this series is slow, very slow. the books get shorter and shorter, less and less is happening in each volume. character A says something to character B then the whole thing is rehashed for a complete chapter to character C. i think the entire book could be condensed to less than 100 pages without losing a thing. i would continue with the series if they were reasonably priced, but in many cases the ebook is more costly than a paperback.
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PainFrame More than 1 year ago
I wouldn’t trust them with a broken-down draft dragon.  Book Three of the Safehold series continues to impress. David Weber is the only author I’ve found who successfully figured out how to get sci-fi into a medieval world. It’s not cheesy at all, it’s completely awesome, and every time Nimue Alban bursts into cybernetic action I couldn’t be happier.  I also enjoy the clever way the author found to tackle the subject of religion, an interesting take that I don’t think I’ve seen since Dune. I’m not sure how many of these books there are going to be, but count me in for the entire ride!
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Ill get him!
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