Hell's Foundations Quiver (Safehold Series #8)

Hell's Foundations Quiver (Safehold Series #8)

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by David Weber
     
 

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Hell's Foundations Quiver: David Weber's New York Times-bestselling Safehold series begun with Off Armageddon Reef, By Schism Rent Asunder, By Heresies Distressed, A Mighty Fortress and Like a Mighty Army.

TURNING OF THE TIDE

Centuries ago, the human race fought its first great war against an alien race-and lost. A

Overview

Hell's Foundations Quiver: David Weber's New York Times-bestselling Safehold series begun with Off Armageddon Reef, By Schism Rent Asunder, By Heresies Distressed, A Mighty Fortress and Like a Mighty Army.

TURNING OF THE TIDE

Centuries ago, the human race fought its first great war against an alien race-and lost. A tiny population of human beings fled to distant Safehold. Centuries later, their descendants have forgotten their history; for them, life has been an eternal Middle Ages, ruled by the Church of God Awaiting, whose secret purpose is to prevent the re-emergence of industrial civilization.

But not all of Safehold's founders were on board with this plan. Those dissidents left behind their own secret legacies. One of those is Merlyn Athrawes, cybernetic avatar of one of Earth's long-dead defenders, now reawakened after a thousand years to restart human progress and reclaim our place in the universe. Merlyn has intervened in the small Safeholdian realm of Charis, seeding it with ideas and innovations and helping it to rise to challenge the hegemony of the Church.

It's been a long and bloody fight, but aided by a stream of inventions--breech-loading rifles, signal rockets, claymore mines, new approaches to manufacturing and supply-Charis and its few allies seem to have finally gained the upper hand. Now major realms have begun to consider switching sides.

To all these ends, Merlyn Athrawes has been everywhere, under multiple disguises and wielding hidden powers. The secret of who and what he is has been closely held. But a new player has arrived, one who knows many secrets-including Merlyn's own.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/17/2015
Weber’s strong eighth Safehold military SF novel (after Like a Mighty Army) is certainly not a suitable entry point into the series, but confirmed fans will appreciate the battlefield action and political maneuvering that fill these pages. On a distant planet, humans built a religion around antitechnology beliefs to protect themselves from discovery by more advanced aliens. Centuries later, Merlin Athrawes and Nimue Chwaeriau, two copies of a long-dormant android, continue the push to revive high technology, providing leadership to those in the Empire of Charis who are fighting against the repressive Mother Church. The Imperial Charisian Army is triumphing over the Army of God on all fronts, though the naval battles are not so one-sided. These setbacks begin to disrupt the unity of the church-ruling Group of Four. The battles and intrigue keep things moving, but Weber does slow the pace considerably every time he inserts lengthy passages on military engineering. (Oct.)
Library Journal
★ 09/15/2015
In Weber's eighth series entry (after Like a Mighty Army) about a world torn between rebels advocating a return to industrial civilization and the rulers who defend the strict mores of the Middle Ages, there is a great deal of advancement in plot and character development. Even as the Empire's forces advance steadily across Siddarmark, it's clear the Mighty Host of God Army isn't yet done. With an increasing number of allies joining cybernetic avatar Merlyn's inner circle, and thus linked with instantaneous communication, the series is moving quickly back to its sf origins. Technical detail and historical weapon development will thrill military history buffs, but fortunately, the larger plot doesn't get dragged down in the facts. VERDICT Series fans will find this rewarding reading a reminder that Weber's series continues to be lively. Newcomers should start with the first volume, Safehold; the time it takes to read this 8,000-page (so far) epic is completely worth it.—JM

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765361554
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
08/30/2016
Series:
Safehold Series , #8
Pages:
1088
Sales rank:
50,400
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

Hell's Foundations Quiver


By David Weber

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2015 David Weber
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-4983-5



CHAPTER 1

Merlin Athrawes' Chamber, Charisian Embassy, Siddar City, Republic of Siddarmark


The roaring, shingle-lifting bluster of snow-laden wind only made the sudden, profound silence more complete. The slight sound as a coal settled on the modest bedchamber's hearth seemed almost deafening, and Merlin Athrawes stood very still, shoulders against the door he'd just closed behind him, sapphire eyes gazing intently through the fire-flickered dimness at the slender woman in the single chair beside that hearth.

The woman who had just called him "Ahbraim."

Which, he reflected, made the question of how she'd managed to get by the alert sentinels guarding the Charisian Embassy here in the heart of Siddar City rather secondary.

The heavy, utilitarian coat hanging from his coat tree — like the boots and thick woolen stockings she'd slipped from slim, pedicured feet and set before the fire — was soaked with melting snow. The firelight cast dancing light and shadow across her brilliant, expressive eyes, gleamed on the gold and topaz encircling her aristocratic throat, and struck subdued highlights from hair that was almost as dark as Sharleyan Ahrmahk's own, and the gown she'd worn under that plain, serviceable coat was as exquisitely designed and cut as it was expensive. She was quite possibly the most beautiful woman he'd ever met and he could smell the subtle sweetness of her perfume, but none of those things were what held him so still.

"Why," he asked after a moment, in a tone which sounded considerably calmer than it should have, "did you call me 'Ahbraim,' Madam Pahrsahn?" He cocked his head, expression puzzled. "I assume it's a reference to Master Zhevons?"

"You really are very good," Aivah Pahrsahn — who'd once been known as Ahnzhelyk Phonda, among many other names — said approvingly. "Why, you could almost — almost, I say — convince me. But you can't, you know. I've been watching you for too long, and I have a very good memory for details."

"Watching me?" he repeated. "Watching me do what? I haven't made any special effort to keep my comings and goings here in Siddar City secret from you or the Lord Protector. Or from your agents, now that I think about it."

"Well," she said thoughtfully, leaning back and crossing her long legs elegantly. She propped one elbow on the chair arm and rested her chin on the palm of a perfectly manicured hand as she gazed up at him like a woman contemplating a problem to which she'd devoted much thought. "I'll concede that at least a part of what gave you away were things I could see working together with you and His Majesty here in the capital, but that wasn't really decisive. No, what finally convinced me my absurd suspicions might actually be well-founded wasn't so much the many interesting things you were doing here as it was the timing of all those occasions when you ... weren't here, shall we say."

"In what way?" The tall, broad-shouldered Imperial Guardsman folded his arms across his chest and raised one eyebrow. "And while I'm asking questions, what sort of 'suspicions' — well-founded or not — are we talking about?"

"The world went the better part of a thousand years without a single verified seijin-sighting," Madam Pahrsahn replied. "Then, all of a sudden, you surfaced ... in Charis, of all places. During the War Against the Fallen, not a single seijin — not one of them, Merlin — was ever reported in remote, backwater, unimportant little Charis. Until Charis was neither little nor unimportant ... and there you were, smack in the middle of Tellesberg."

She gave him a dimpled smile.

"Now, I realize you've always been careful to tell everyone you're not really a seijin — or to imply it as strongly as possible, at any rate — but no one's ever actually believed you. Quite reasonably, I concluded, once the reports of your activities came to my ears. Whatever you might choose to say, your accomplishments clearly established what you actually were, I'm afraid. And while the fact that a seijin had surfaced anywhere at this late date was remarkable enough, it became even more remarkable in light of the way you'd given your allegiance to the Church of Charis when everyone knew the seijins had always been Mother Church's champions. What, I wondered when I heard the first reports about your ... astonishing capabilities, was a seijin doing in the service of a clearly heretical church and empire?"

"May I assume you eventually came up with an answer to that question?" he inquired politely.

"Well, given the difference between the heretical church in question and what that pig Clyntahn and his precious Group of Four had done to Mother Church, it didn't take me long to conclude that you represented a fairly emphatic statement of divine disapproval of their actions." Her smile disappeared. "And, to be honest, I found myself wondering what had taken God so long."

He inclined his head in a silent nod, acknowledging the point of her last sentence without responding directly to it.

"I kept as close an eye on you and your activities as I could," she continued after a moment. "Distance was something of a problem, but as I'm sure you've become aware, when I decide to keep an eye on something — or someone — I'm better at it than most. So long before Seijin Ahbraim ever entered my establishment in Zion, I'd come to the conclusion that despite all your protestations to the contrary, you were as genuine a seijin as ever walked the face of this world. And whether or not you chose to proclaim any semidivine status of your own, you were clearly on the side of God."

Her voice turned softer on the last sentence, and the wind roar behind the stillness gusted momentarily louder as their eyes met. She let silence linger for a long, quiet moment, then shrugged.

"That's one reason I was prepared to listen to Seijin Ahbraim when he turned up in Zion to warn me to expedite my plans. I think he probably would have convinced me anyway, but I happen to be something of a student of the lore about seijins, and I'd already had all of that time to draw my conclusions about you. Those conclusions applied by extension to him as your fellow seijin and ... associate, and his advice turned out to have been remarkably good in the end. After all, it brought me here," she waved her free hand gracefully, as if to encompass the city beyond the bedchamber's walls, "where I was able to add my own modest efforts to those of all those people fighting openly to bring down Clyntahn and the others." She met Merlin's blue eyes very levelly. "For that privilege, that opportunity, I will be eternally grateful to ... Seijin Ahbraim."

His nod was a bit deeper this time, almost a bow, and he crossed to the fireplace, opened the screen, and used the tongs to settle two more large lumps of coal into the fire. Fresh, brighter light flared, and he listened to the jubilant, hissing crackle as the flames explored the coal's surface, then closed the screen once more and turned back to Madam Pahrsahn. He raised his left arm, laying it along the small mantel above the hearth, and arched both eyebrows in a silent invitation to continue.

"I will admit," she said quietly, "that it took me some time to begin to suspect the truth — or at least one of the truths — behind your mask, Merlin. I'm quite certain I haven't perceived all of them even now. But something about you seemed very familiar when we first met here in Siddar City. As I said, I have an excellent memory, and a woman in my profession — or in Ahnzhelyk Phonda's, at least — learns to observe very small details about other people. Particularly, if we're going to be honest, about men. Especially about good-looking men who aren't simply courteous but gentle and even considerate with the women whose services they seek from someone like Ahnzhelyk. And Ahbraim and I — well, Ahbraim and Frahncyn Tahlbaht, I suppose — spent quite a lot of time together in Bruhstair Freight Haulers' warehouse and on the trip out of Zion.

"After I met you here in Siddar City, it gradually dawned on me that you reminded me a great deal of him. Oh," she waved her free hand again, "your hair's a different color, and so are your eyes, of course. Your voices and accents are very different, too, and Ahbraim's clean-shaven, whereas you have that dashing beard and mustache. Oh, and that scarred cheek, as well. But, you know, you're exactly the same height, your shoulders are the same width, and when I looked at you and mentally stripped away that beard and mustache, I realized the chin was almost identical. You really should have taken more care about that, and perhaps about the hands, as well."

"Oh?" Merlin held out his right hand, looking down at its back and then turning it to examine the long, strong fingers with their swordsman's calluses.

"I doubt anyone else has noticed a thing," she told him thoughtfully. "I mean, the entire idea's preposterous, isn't it? It took even someone who's been a student of the seijins for as many years as I have a long time to admit what I'd come to suspect. But when I did, I started keeping track of exactly when and where Ahbraim or any other seijin or suspected seijin made an actual face-to-face appearance rather than restricting himself to written reports. I started keeping track of any information I could find about their physical appearances, as well, and I discovered two fascinating things. First, every single one of those other seijins was quite tall, well above average in height ... just like you. And, second, whenever I could positively nail down another seijin's appearance, it always turned out that you'd left Siddar City on some mission — generally an unspecified and covert one — for Cayleb at exactly the same time. Aren't those interesting coincidences?"

"Obviously," Merlin said after a moment, "they aren't coincidences at all." He considered her thoughtfully, then shrugged. "I trust you'll understand if I don't rush to give you any more information in a sudden excess of enthusiasm?"

Madam Pahrsahn's sudden laugh was deep, throaty, and very real, and she shook her head.

"Merlin, somehow I don't really think of you as someone who's subject to sudden excesses of enthusiasm or anything else!"

"One tries not to be," he acknowledged politely.

"And quite successfully, too," she agreed. "But once I'd realized we weren't really seeing all that many seijins even now, and once I'd realized how your absence correlated so perfectly with every other verified sighting, I realized there really was only one of you. One of you who could change not just his outward appearance but who he actually was as easily as a mask lizard changes color in a flowerbed, and cover impossible distances with impossible speed. And that, my friend, was the final proof you truly were a seijin. Just as much as Seijin Kohdy."

Despite himself, Merlin blinked at her chosen comparison. Seijin Kohdy was deeply embedded in Safeholdian folklore, but unlike the double handful of "attested" seijins recorded in The Testimonies left by the Adams and Eves who'd survived ShanWei's Rebellion and the War Against the Fallen, there was no historical record of him at all. Not only that, but while the seijins of The Testimonies were all sober, focused, intensely disciplined warriors for God, Archangels, and Church, Seijin Kohdy swirled through the tales about him like some sort of traveling conjurer or laughing vagabond. Or an Odysseus, perhaps. His times had been anything but humorous, yet the vast majority of those tales related as much to his craftiness, his ability to gain his objectives through guile and subterfuge as much as by the deadliness of Helm Cleaver, his magic sword ... and to his humor, his weakness for attractive women, and his fondness for a glass of good whiskey. Indeed, "Seijin Kohdy's Premium Blend," one of the most popular Chisholmian blended whiskies, was named for him, and its label featured not simply the magical sword which was inextricably bound up with his name but also an artist's impression of Kohdy himself ... with not one but two scantily clad barmaids sitting on his lap.

The stories about him were full of laughter and warmth, stories about someone who was very, very different from the officially recorded seijins, and Merlin had come to the conclusion that he was, in fact, a fictional creation. A construct, fashioned by later generations from the legend of the "real" seijins and seasoned with more than a dash of the trickster DNA so many of Old Earth's mythologies had treasured.

It would appear, however, that Aivah was entirely serious, and that behooved him to move cautiously.

"Interesting you should bring up Seijin Kohdy," he said after a moment. "Especially since I don't recall him being mentioned in the official list of seijins who served the Church and the Archangels."

"No, he isn't," she agreed, and her expression was suddenly much grimmer, her tone darker. "All of those 'official' seijins are saints of Mother Church, and he's not listed there, either ... now."

"Now?" Merlin's deep voice was gentler than it had been.

"Now," she repeated. She uncrossed her legs, sitting up straighter, and her nostrils flared as she inhaled deeply. Then she looked directly into his eyes.

"Who are you really, Merlin?" she asked. "Where do you truly come from? And don't just tell me 'the Mountains of Light.'"

"Where else might I come from, Aivah?" he asked in return, holding out his arms in a gesture which took in not simply the bedchamber, nor even the Republic's capital, but the entire world beyond them.

"I don't know," she told him very quietly, her eyes deep and dark in the fire-spangled dimness, "but I've come to suspect that wherever you truly come from is also where all of the Adams and Eves who awoke here on Safehold on the Day of Creation truly came from, as well."

CHAPTER 2

Charisian Embassy, Siddar City, Republic of Siddarmark


"She said what?"

It was getting on towards dawn — and much warmer — in Corisande. The eastern sky beyond the windows of Sharleyan Ahrmahk's guest suite in Manchyr Palace was ever so slightly less black than it had been, and she leaned back against piled pillows in a billow of sheets and filmy steel thistle silk nightgown. She'd actually been asleep for some hours before her husband's urgent com call awakened her, yet her huge brown eyes were anything but sleepy.

"Apparently, Jeremiah Knowles wasn't the only person who left a written record," Merlin told her wryly. "Mind you, the perspective's a lot different, according to what Aivah —" He paused, and the image of him projected on her contacts by Owl's communications equipment snorted and shook his head. "Oh, the hell with it! I'm going to call her Nynian from now on. I swear, that woman's the only person on Safehold with more identities to keep straight than I have!"

Someone laughed over the com net, despite the gravity of the moment. It sounded to Sharleyan like Domynyk Staynair, but it might have been Ehdwyrd Howsmyn.

"That does rather serve you right, Merlin," Cayleb observed from where he sat with the seijin in the lamp-lit sitting room of his own suite in Siddar City. He wore a fleecy robe over his own pajamas — his preferred habit of sleeping nude was contraindicated in Siddar City in winter — but unlike his wife, he hadn't quite dropped off to sleep before Merlin's knock pulled him back out of bed. "What's that cliché you used about that pain-in-the-arse Zhwaigair's improvement on the Mahndrayn?" he continued. "'Hoist by your own petard,' wasn't it?"

"Be fair, Cayleb," Merlin protested. "I've only been doing this for seven years. As nearly as I can figure out, she's been doing it since she was fifteen!"

"And damned well, too, it sounds like," Nimue Chwaeriau said soberly from her chair in Sharleyan's bedchamber. "Without, I might add, all of your — well, our, I suppose — advantages, either."

"I've always realized she was a remarkable woman," Archbishop Maikel Staynair said softly from his bedroom in Archbishop Klairmant Gairlyng's palace, across the square from Manchyr Palace. "I never imagined anything like this, though."

"None of us did, Maikel," Cayleb pointed out. "That's rather the point of this little conference. What do we do about her now?"

"I agree we have to decide that quickly," Rahzhyr Mahklyn put in from his Tellesberg study. The hour was later there than in Siddar City, though not nearly so late — or early, depending upon one's perspective — as in Manchyr, and the head of the Royal College cupped his mug of hot chocolate in both hands, gazing down into its plume of steam with a troubled expression. "At the same time, we need to consider very carefully how much of the full truth we share with her."

"I don't know that this is a moment for pussyfooting around, Rahzhyr," High Admiral Rock Point replied.

The archbishop's brother sat on the sternwalk of his flagship, gazing across the black mirror of Tellesberg Harbor towards the imperial capital's gas-lit wharves. Unlike Mahklyn, he'd opted for a glass of whiskey. Now he rolled a deep sip slowly over his tongue, swallowed, and shook his head.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Hell's Foundations Quiver by David Weber. Copyright © 2015 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 the author of the New York Times bestselling Honor Harrington series, including Mission of Honor. He lives in South Carolina.

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Hell's Foundations Quiver 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Micahmay76 More than 1 year ago
Another excellent book by David Weber in the Safehold series. I eagerly await each new book to find out how this saga unfolds. I am not sure how David Weber's plan for this book goes, but I certainly hope it ends on a rematch with the Gbaba. I highly recommend this book, but if you have not read the entire series, I highly recommend doing so first. Otherwise you will be lost in this dynamic world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I always look forward to getting the next David Weber book. He has an incredible imagination and his ability to make his stories realistic and interesting keeps me coming back. On the negative side I am often frustrated by the sixty to eighty page intervals that contain dialogs of way too many characters to remember. When I noticed the nine hundred page length of this novel I had a sinking feeling that he would be dragging the story out than his other books I have read. Weber can interject the lengthy viewpoints of dozens of characters in a five minute action sequence while the plot grinds to a stop. The movement of his story is getting slower and his long winded conversations are getting lengthier. I would have given this novel five stars if weber could have cut out at least half of talking and put more effort into moving the story along.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ALL hail langhorne
Tarbush More than 1 year ago
Had read some of Weber's books earlier. OK, but then read the cover on "Off Armageddon Reef" and was hooked! I understand that many readers are somewhat impatient as the story develops and appears to drag. IMHO, David has progressed this series exquisitely! Character development is detailed, and I'm all into the twists where the good guys don't always have it their way all the time. I enjoy the plot development and am looking as forward to seeing the "Group of Four" getting their butts kicked as the Gbaba.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm in love with this story. Don't judge me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the story line but I get bogged down in Who is Who. In addition, since I bought it for my Nook, the maps are small and impossible to read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this series. As time went on, it got too big, too complicated, and too annoying to read. First off you can't have 45 main characters in each book, let's concentrate on no more than three or four please. Good Lord man, like having 7 TV shows on at once! What went through your head on that choice? But absolutely worst part, the part that destroyed and pure enjoyment in reading this book, was the mind numbingly moronic attempt to create a new language only for people's names. Seriously, did you stroke out during this part of the creative process? It makes no sense on any level. It is like a chef adding lobster, to chocolate pudding. Oh and once again, where the heck are the main characters? All are hanging out in there castle's for months? This is a world war, I don't care what captain Zhyrphycgaltipal's one ship did, especially since he dies in 2 hours and you wasted 30 pages blundering on about look outs climb to the crows nest! Really bad...
Chris-Texas More than 1 year ago
I have gotten very bored with endless dialog and lack of action. I find my self skipping pages looking for the meat of the story. Get on with it please.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read each one of the books in this series (and a lot of his other books). I anxiously await each new offering. But, I think I am done. The previous book was slow and did not seem to advance the story much, but this one was even worse. It is like he is getting paid for each word. Most of the book is all about how each character perceives his god and how it fits into his moral thinking, or not. A little bit of that is good, to much is is excruciatingly boring. And the story did not go anywhere. Each book lately seems to progress for a single year. Get to the climax already. We all know how it is going to end, tell us what happens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr. Weber has done it again. I could not put the book down and looking forward to the next book in the series.