The world has changed. The mercantile kingdom of Charis has prevailed over the alliance designed to exterminate it. Armed with better sailing vessels, better guns and better devices of all sorts, Charis faced the combined navies of the rest of the world at Darcos Sound and Armageddon Reef, and broke them. Despite the implacable hostility of the Church of God Awaiting, Charis still stands, still free, still tolerant, still an island of innovation in a world in which the Church has worked for centuries to keep humanity locked at a medieval level of existence.
But the powerful men who run the Church aren't going to take their defeat lying down. Charis may control the world's seas, but it barely has an army worthy of the name. And as King Cayleb knows, far too much of the kingdom's recent good fortune is due to the secret manipulations of the being that calls himself Merlin-a being that, the world must not find out too soon, is more than human. A being on whose shoulders rests the last chance for humanity's freedom.
Now, as Charis and its archbishop make the rift with Mother Church explicit, the storm gathers. Schism has come to the world of Safehold. Nothing will ever be the same... in David Weber's By Schism Rent Asunder.
1. Off Armageddon Reef
2. By Schism Rent Asunder
3. By Heresies Distressed
4. A Mighty Fortress
5. How Firm A Foundation
6. Midst Toil and Tribulation
7. Like A Mighty Army
8. Hell's Foundations Quiver
9. At the Sign of Triumph
About the Author
David Weber is a science fiction phenomenon and the author of the Safehold series, including Off Armageddon Reef, By Heresies Distressed and A Mighty Fortress. His popular Honor Harrington and Honorverse novelsincluding Mission of Honor, At All Costs, and Torch of Freedomare 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.
Read an Excerpt
Princedom of Emerald
Bright morning sunlight glittered on the crossed golden scepters of the green banner of the Church of God Awaiting. The twin-masted courier ship flying that wind-starched banner as she scudded along on the brisk breeze was little more than seventy feet long, built for speed rather than endurance . . . or even seakeeping and stability. Her crew of sixty was small for any galley, even one as diminutive as she was, but her slender, lightly constructed hull was well suited for rowing, and her lateen sails drove her in a rapid flurry of foam as she went slicing across the brilliant sun-splintered water and foaming white horses of the thirty-mile-wide passage between Callie’s Island and the northeastern shore of Eraystor Bay.
Father Rahss Sawal, the small fleet vessel’s commander, stood on his tiny quarterdeck, hands clasped behind him, and concentrated on looking confident while he gazed up at the seabirds and wyverns hovering against the painfully blue sky. It was harder than it ought to have been to maintain the outward assurance (it would never have done to call it arrogance) proper to the master of one of Mother Church’s couriers, and Sawal didn’t much care for the reason he found it so.
The Temple’s messengers, whether landbound or afloat, enjoyed absolute priority and freedom of passage. They carried God’s own messages and commands, with all the authority of the archangels themselves, and no mortal had the temerity to challenge their passage wherever God or His Church might send them. That had been true literally since the Creation, and no one had ever dared to dispute it. Unfortunately, Sawal was no longer certain the centuries-old inviolability of Mother Church’s messengers continued to hold true.
The thought was . . . disturbing, in more ways than one. Most immediately, because of the potential consequences for his own current mission. In the long run, because the failure of that inviolability was unthinkable. Defiance of the authority of God’s Church could have only one consequence for the souls of the defiers, and if their example led others into the same sin . . .
Sawal pushed that thought aside once more, telling himself—insisting to himself—that whatever madness had infected the Kingdom of Charis, God would never permit it to spread beyond Charis’ borders. The universal authority of Mother Church was the linchpin not simply of the world in which he lived, but of God’s very plan for Man’s salvation. If that authority were challenged, if it failed, the consequences would be unthinkable. Shanwei, lost and damned mother of evil, must be licking her fangs at the very possibility in the dark, dank corner of Hell to which the Archangel Langhorne had consigned her for her sins. Even now she must be testing the bars, trying the strength of her chains, as she tasted the overweening, sinful pride of those who sought to set their own fallible judgment in place of God’s. Langhorne himself had locked that gate behind her, with all the authority of eternity, but Man had free will. Even now, he could turn the key in that lock if he so chose, and if he did . . .
Damn those Charisians, he thought grimly. Don’t they even realize what door they’re opening? Don’t they care? Don’t—
His jaw tightened and he forced himself to relax his shoulders and draw a deep, cleansing breath. It didn’t help very much.
His instructions from Bishop Executor Thomys had been abundantly clear. Sawal was to deliver the bishop executor’s dispatches to Bishop Executor Wyllys in Eraystor at all costs. That phrase—“at all costs”—had never before been part of Sawal’s orders. There’d never been any need for it, but there was now, and—
“Deck there!” The shout came down from the crow’s nest. “Deck there! Three sail on the port bow!”
“Well, well,” Commander Paitryk Hywyt, Royal Charisian Navy, murmured to himself as he peered through the spyglass. “This should be interesting.”
He lowered the glass and frowned thoughtfully. His orders were perfectly clear on this point. They’d made him more than a little nervous when he first received them, but they were definitely clear, and now he discovered that he was actually looking forward to obeying them. Odd. He wouldn’t have thought that was likely to happen.
“It’s a Church courier, all right,” he said a bit louder, and Zhak Urvyn, HMS Wave’s first lieutenant, made a distinctly unhappy sound.
“Some of the men may not like it, Sir,” Urvyn said softly. Hywyt glanced sideways at him, then shrugged.
“I’ve got a feeling the men’s attitude may just surprise you a bit, Zhak,” he said dryly. “They’re still about as pissed off as I’ve ever seen them, and they know who that courier’s really working for this morning.”
Urvyn nodded, but he looked gloomier than ever, and Hywyt grimaced mentally. It wasn’t the men Urvyn expected to be unhappy; it was Urvyn himself.
“Bring her three points to port, if you please, Lieutenant,” Hywyt said, speaking rather more formally than was his wont. “Let’s lay out a course to intercept her.”
“Aye, aye, Sir.” Urvyn’s expression was worried, but he saluted and passed the order to the helmsman while other hands pattered across the wooden decks to tend sheets and braces.
Wave changed course, slicing across the water close-hauled on the port tack, and Hywyt felt a familiar surge of pleasure as his vessel responded. The sleek, flush-decked, twin-masted schooner was just over ninety-five feet long on the waterline, and mounted fourteen thirty-pounder carronades. Unlike some of her sisters, Wave had been designed and built from the keel up as a light cruiser for the Royal Charisian Navy. Her revolutionary sail plan made her faster and far more weatherly than any other ship Hywyt had ever encountered, far less commanded, and she’d already taken no less than seven prizes—almost half of those captured by the entire blockading squadron—here in Emeraldian waters since the Battle of Darcos Sound. That was what speed and handiness meant, and the comfortable sound prize money made falling into their purses had helped overcome any lingering qualms his crew might have cherished. They were Charisians, after all, he thought with a gleam of humor. Charis’ numerous detractors were wont to refer to the Kingdom as a “kingdom of shopkeepers and moneylenders,” and not in tones of approval. Hywyt had listened to their rancorous envy for years, and he had to admit there was at least a little truth to the stereotype of the Charisian constantly on the prowl for ways to make a quick mark.
Of course, we’re also very good at it, aren’t we? he reflected, and felt himself smiling as the courier boat with the dark green flag drew rapidly nearer.
He couldn’t be positive the other ship had come from Corisande, but no other explanation seemed very likely. The dispatch boat had obviously approached through Dolphin Reach, which certainly meant it had also crossed the Sea of Zebediah. No courier from Haven or Howard would have been coming from that direction, and Hywyt rather doubted Sharleyan of Chisholm was particularly interested in corresponding with Nahrmahn of Emerald at the moment. And judging from the way the fellow had chosen the strait between Callie’s Island and the Emeraldian coast, he definitely didn’t want to attract the attention of the blockade squadron.
Unfortunately for him, he already had, and it was evident that his ship, for all its sleek design, was quite a bit slower than Wave under these conditions.
“Clear for action,” he said, and watched the gap between the two ships narrow as the drum began to beat.
Rahss Sawal tried very hard not to swear as the Charisian schooner swept towards him. Obviously, his information was even more out-of-date than he’d feared when Bishop Executor Thomys gave him his orders. He hadn’t expected to see Charisian warships actually inside Eraystor Bay proper. Then again, he hadn’t expected to see the gold kraken on black of the Charisian flag flying above what used to be the Emeraldian fortress on Callie’s Island, either.
The dispersal of the Charisian warships was the clearest possible evidence of the totality of their victory at the Battle of Darcos Sound. The true extent of the allied fleet’s defeat had still been unclear when Sawal left Manchyr. That it had been crushing was obvious, but everyone in Corisande had clung to the hope that the majority of the ships which had not returned had found refuge in Emerald, where they were even then helping Nahrmahn defend their anchorage.
Obviously not, Sawal thought sourly.
He could see exactly four ships now, counting the schooner charging down on his own command, and every one of them flew Charisian colors. They were spread out widely, as well, to cover as much of the bay as they could, and they wouldn’t have been doing that if there’d been any possibility at all that someone might consider attacking them. That, coupled with the fact that all the island fortifications Sawal could see from his quarterdeck had clearly become Charisian bases, not Emeraldian ones, made it abundantly clear that there was no “allied fleet” any longer, much less one that was still defending its anchorage.
Sawal had never before encountered one of the Charisians’ new schooners, and he was astonished at how close to the wind the thing could sail. And by the size and power of its sail plan. His ship had the same number of masts, but the Charisian had to have at least twice the sail area. It also had the stability and size to carry more sail, and it was driving far harder under these conditions than his own ship could manage.
The number of gun ports arranged along its side was at least equally impressive, and he felt his stomach muscles tighten as the stubby muzzles of cannon poked out of them.
He glanced at his own second-in-command. The one-word question made the other priest’s tension abundantly clear, and Sawal couldn’t blame him. Not that he had an answer for what he knew the man was actually asking.
“We’ll have to see what we see, Brother Tymythy,” he said instead. “Hold your course.”
“He’s not changing course,” Urvyn said.
As redundant statements of the obvious went, that one took some beating, Hywyt thought.
“No, he isn’t,” the commander agreed with massive restraint as the range fell steadily. It was down to less than three hundred yards and still dropping, and he wondered how far the other skipper was going to go in calling what he undoubtedly hoped was Wave’s bluff. “Pass the word to the Gunner to stand ready to fire a shot across his bow.”
Urvyn hesitated. It was a tiny thing. Someone else might not have noticed it at all, but Urvyn had been Hywyt’s first lieutenant for over six months. For a moment, Hywyt thought he would have to repeat the order, but then Urvyn turned heavily away and raised his leather speaking trumpet.
“Stand ready to fire across his bow, Master Charlz!” he shouted, and Wave’s gunner waved back in acknowledgment.
“I think he’s—”
Brother Tymythy never completed that particular observation. There was no need. The flat, concussive thud of a single gun punctuated it quite nicely, and Sawal watched the cannonball go slashing across the waves, cutting its line of white across their crests as cleanly as any kraken’s dorsal fin.
“He’s fired on us!” Tymythy said instead. His voice was shrill with outrage, and his eyes were wide, as if he was actually surprised that even Charisians should dare to offer such insult to Mother Church. And perhaps he was. Sawal, on the other hand, discovered that he truly wasn’t.
“Yes, he has,” the under-priest agreed far more calmly than he felt.
I didn’t really believe they’d do it, he thought. I’m sure I didn’t. So why am I not surprised that they have? This is the beginning of the end of the world, for God’s sake!
He thought again about the dispatches he carried, who they were addressed to, and why. He thought about the whispered rumors, about exactly what Prince Hektor and his allies had hoped for . . . what rewards they’d been promised by the Church.
No, not by the Church, Sawal told himself. By the Knights of the Temple Lands. There is a difference!
Yet even as he insisted upon that to himself, he knew better. Whatever technical or legal distinctions might exist, he knew better. And that, he realized now, with something very like despair, was why he truly wasn’t surprised.
Even now, he couldn’t put it into words for himself, couldn’t make himself face it that squarely, but he knew. Whatever might have been true before the massive onslaught Prince Hektor and his allies had launched upon the Kingdom of Charis, the Charisians knew as well as Sawal who had truly been behind it. They knew the reality of the cynical calculations, the casual readiness to destroy an entire realm in blood and fire, and the arrogance which had infused and inspired them. This time the “Group of Four” had come too far out of the shadows, and what they had envisioned as the simple little assassination of an inconvenient kingdom had turned into something very different.
Charis knew who its true enemy had been all along, and that explained exactly why that schooner was prepared to fire on the flag of God’s own Church.
The schooner was closer now, leaning to the press of her towering spread of canvas, her bow garlanded with white water and flying spray that flashed like rainbow gems under the brilliant sun. He could make out individuals along her low bulwarks, pick out her uniformed captain standing aft, near the wheel, see the crew of the forward gun in her starboard broadside reloading their weapon. He looked up at his own sails, then at the schooner’s krakenlike grace, and drew a deep breath.
“Strike our colors, Brother Tymythy,” he said.
“Father?” Brother Tymythy stared at him, as if he couldn’t believe his own ears.
“Strike our colors!” Sawal repeated more firmly.
“But, but the Bishop Executor—”
“Strike our colors!” Sawal snapped.
For a moment, he thought Tymythy might refuse. Tymythy knew their orders as well as Sawal did, after all. But it was far easier for a bishop to order an under-priest to maintain the authority of Mother Church “at any cost” than it was for Father Rahss Sawal to get the crew of his vessel killed as part of an exercise in futility.
If there were any hope of actually delivering our dispatches, I wouldn’t strike, he told himself, and wondered whether or not it was the truth. But it’s obvious we can’t keep away from them, and if those people over there are as prepared to fire into us as I think they are, they’ll turn this entire vessel into toothpicks with a single broadside. Two, at the outside. There’s no point in seeing my own people slaughtered for nothing, and we aren’t even armed.
The flag which had never before been dipped to any mortal power fluttered down from the courier boat’s masthead. Sawal watched it come down, and an ice-cold wind blew through the marrow of his bones.
It was a small thing, in so many ways, that scrap of embroidered fabric. But that was how all true catastrophes began, wasn’t it? With small things, like the first stones in an avalanche.
Maybe I should have made them fire into us. At least then there wouldn’t have been any question, any ambiguity. And if Charis is prepared to defy Mother Church openly, perhaps a few dead crewmen would have made that point even more clearly.
Perhaps they would have, and perhaps he should have forced the Charisians to do it, but he was a priest, not a soldier, and he simply couldn’t. And, he told himself, the mere fact that Charis had fired upon the flag of Holy Mother Church should be more than enough without his allowing his people to be killed, on top of it.
No doubt it would, and yet even as he told himself that, he knew.
The lives he might have saved this morning would be as meaningless as mustard seeds on a hurricane’s breath beside the horrendous mountains of death looming just over the lip of tomorrow.
Excerpted from BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER by David Weber.
Copyright © 2008 by David Weber.
Published in July 2008 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Table of Contents
Year of God 892,
I. Eraystor Bay, Princedom of Emerald,
II. Royal Palace, City of Manchyr, Princedom of Corisande,
III. Tellesberg Cathedral, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
IV. Royal Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
V. HMS DestroyerITL[,]ITL Eraystor Bay, Princedom of Emerald,
VI. Royal Palace, City of Eraystor, Princedom of Emerald,
VII. Breygart House, Hanth Town, Earldom of Hanth,
June, Year of God 892,
I. The Temple of God, City of Zion, The Temple Lands,
II. Queen Sharleyan's Palace, City of Cherayth, Kingdom of Chisholm,
III. Ehdwyrd Howsmyn's Foundry, Delthak, Earldom of High Rock, Kingdom of Charis,
IV. Galleon Southwind, Margaret Bay; Gray Ship Tavern, Hanth Town, Earldom of Hanth,
V. Madame Ahnzhelyk's, City of Zion, The Temple Lands,
VI. Hanth Town, Earldom of Hanth, Kingdom of Charis,
VII. Royal Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
VIII. Erayk Dynnys' Cell and the Plaza of Martyrs, The Temple of God, City of Zion, The Temple Lands,
IX. Grand Council Chamber, Queen Sharleyan's Palace, City of Cherayth, Kingdom of Chisholm,
X. Tellesberg Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
XI. North Bay, Princedom of Emerald,
XII. Royal Palace, City of Eraystor, Princedom of Emerald,
XIII. Tellesberg Cathedral and Royal Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
July, Year of God 892,
I. Royal College, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
II. Royal Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
III. Archbishop's Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
IV. Royal Palace and Monastery of Saint Zherneau, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
V. Marine Training Ground, Helen Island, Kingdom of Charis,
VI. Captain Merlin Athrawes' Quarters, Archbishop's Palace, and Royal Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom,
VII. King Cayleb's Private Dining Salon, Royal Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
August, Year of God 892,
I. Schooner Blade and Galleon Guardian, off Lizard Island, Hankey Sound,
II. Tellesberg Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
III. Royal Patent Office, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
IV. House of Parliament, Kingdom of Charis,
V. Earl of Thirsk's Townhouse, City of Gorath, Kingdom of Dohlar,
VI. Tellesberg Harbor, and Tellesberg Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
VII. The Temple, City of Zion, The Temple Lands,
VIII. City of Manchyr, Princedom of Corisande,
IX. Tellesberg Harbor, Kingdom of Charis,
X. Archbishop's Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
XI. Royal Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
XII. A Palace Ballroom, Tellesberg Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
XIII. City of Ferayd, Ferayd Sound, Kingdom of Delferahk,
XIV. Ferayd Harbor and Main Shipping Channel, Ferayd Sound, Kingdom of Delferahk,
XV. Charisian Embassy, City of Siddar, Republic of Siddar,
September, Year of God 892,
I. Tellesberg Palace, Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
II. Tellesberg Cathedral, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
III. Tellesberg Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
IV. The Temple, City of Zion, The Temple Lands,
V. Army Training Ground and Manchyr Cathedral, Duchy of Manchyr, Kingdom of Corisande,
VI. Tellesberg Palace and The Sailor's Lady Tavern, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
October, Year of God 892,
I. Helen Island, Howell Bay, Kingdom of Charis,
II. Galleon Raptor, Southern Ocean,
III. Tellesberg Palace, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
IV. Ferayd Sound, Kingdom of Delferahk,
November, Year of God 892,
I. HMS Empress of Charis, City of Tellesberg, Kingdom of Charis,
A Note on Safeholdian Timekeeping,
Tor Books by David Weber,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book picks up where the previous left off. New plot twists are introduced, and long hidden secrets are revealed. What is fascinating about this book is the very real way in which Weber deals with the ethical/theological/philosophical questions that arise. What is more impressive is that he does this while maintaining a good sense of pacing and intermixing a lot of action into the story. Again, this is well worth your time to read.
Weber did a great job here. I really love his writing for the evocative battles, yet this book didn't have many --- what it did have was characters making important, honorable (and hard!) decisions, and making some stirring speeches. This is the second novel in Weber's "Safehold" series; don't read this one without reading the first, and don't expect all the loose ends to be tied up neatly by the end of the book. 5 stars out of 5.
The military technology advances provided by android with a human brain Merlin Athrawes to King Cayleb II of Charis led to their naval slaughter of the forces of their neighbors sanctioned by the Church of God Awaiting at Darcos Sound and Armageddon Reef. Merlin hopes further victories against the corrupt beleaguered Church will ultimately allow mankind to soar off Safehold into space currently banned by church doctrine as interfering with God¿s way.------------- The nations who allied with the Church fear retaliation and know there is little they can do to prevent this since their fleets were destroyed. At the same time a stunned Church of God Awaiting considers declaring Charis as a heretic nation and demanding a holy war to be fought on land as the sea belongs to the renegade kingdom. Meanwhile Cayleb and his Archbishop consider making the religious schism official.--------------- This great sequel (see OFF ARMAGEDDON REEF) has much less action than its exhilarating predecessor, but will be considered one of the best science fiction thrillers of the year. The key cast members seem fully developed, but what makes this superb thriller worth reading is how deep yet subtly the story line provides the audience with insight into how much the Renaissance changed the world.------------ Harriet Klausner
This book shows the great talent of a great writer who can put himself into the world of which he writes...bringing to life in my mind the people of Safehold and the lives they lead. I really loved the read and, although I have already read #3, will read it again now just to tie it in as it was meant to be!!!
Off Armageddon Reef book #1. I couldn't put it down. An excellent story that holds your attention from beginning to end. I am looking forward to buying the entire series.
I have listened to approximately 80% of this audiobook, and it is getting tedious. In fact, I have probably skipped about 1 to 1/12 hours worth of the story without any seeming loss of comprehension. Unfortunately, this work appears to be little more than the meeting minutes of various fantasy councils. The characters meet, talk about what they are going to do ad nauseum, and on rare occasion do what they talkeda about. I am amazed that Weber is considered a good author or is as popular as he seems to be if the rest of his works are anything like this book and its predecessor, Off Armageddon Reef. He engages in more exposion than is necessary, repeats information, and fills chapters with tedious lectures on technological development, and gossip. Weber appears to have attempted to write a novel of of political and court intrigue, but he fails miserably. This is no George R. R. Martin. And, given that this series is supposedly to be 8 books long, I would advise not even bothering starting it. If you want to waste your time on a overly drawn out work, consider Jordan's Wheel of Time series. At least its entertaining!
I started this second book in the Safehold series with some trepidation. I read the first book in the series (Off Armageddon Reef) over a year ago, and although I loved the thought-provoking premise, I found it perhaps too long and wordy for my taste. I dipped my toe in the waters of this one recently, though, and was immediately hooked. This book sees the continuation of the conflict between the kingdom of Charis and the Church of God Awaiting, exploring a number of interesting questions about the nature and role of religion in society. I would personally prefer less technical detail, although it may be that other readers quite like Weber¿s comprehensiveness. This was nevertheless an enjoyable, gripping, thought-provoking read.
I'm hooked on this series. The valiant kingdom of Charis stands against the corrupt plutocratic empire of the church, and there are great sea battles. It's Hornblower on another planet, with a dash of Arthurian magic thrown in (except it really is advanced technology). A great romp for Weber fans - and this one brings in some new female characters, which alleviates some of the blokiness of the first one. Go Sharleyan!
I am enjoying this series, and will continue it. I like the premise, am interested in the world that has been created, and am becoming fond of some of the principal characters.But I think the books could move a bit faster. The book gets bogged down in lots of detail and going-nowhere descriptions of battles and such. It would be 5 stars and hold my interest better if the writing were tighter.
Jul11:Actually holds together very well with the first one. The only thing really missing is a reduction in the amount of action scenes. I'm still surprised how much I enjoyed reading about all the different characters. Usually there are a few I could care less about.SPOILER:I really enjoyed the revelation that other people knew about the lies of the modern religion.
By Schism Rent Asunder is the latest in David Weber's other new endless series. The names didn't bother me as much here as in last year's Off Armageddon Reef, although it was kind of distracting that at least 3/4 of them have at least one 'y' (and the ones that don't almost invariably have an 'h'). As usual for Weber, there is a lot of political maneuvering and some battles, although here the battles are with ~18th century tech (sailing ships and cannons). There is surprisingly little fighting in this one, and it ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger; I'm wondering if it got so long it was split in two. I like this series. My only complaint is that it is obviously going to be Yet Another Endless Series(TM). Unless Weber suddenly jumps ahead several centuries, there's no way this civilization is going to achieve space flight and kick alien butt anytime soon.
The Safehold series feels like half science fiction, half alternative history. Weber usually brings a fair amount of history in to guide his science fiction; for example, the Honor Harrington books are based pretty heavily on Napoleonic politics. The Safehold books are, in a similar way, based on sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe and England (which has the fabulous side effect of letting Weber actually write naval battles on the high seas, which, if you've read the Honor books, you just know he's always wanted to do). Weber doesn't use the history to create one for one parallels--in fact, there are some MAJOR differences--but the similarities are striking.The science fiction elements that make this NOT alternative history come from the fact that a) this isn't happening on Earth, but on the planet Safehold, where humanity's technology has been set back to the late middle ages/early Renaissance period--they have guns and ships, but not very good ones--because of an alien threat that has already destroyed the rest of humanity; and b) there's a nine-hundred-year-old simulacrum of a woman named Nimue (though the simulacrum has transformed itself into a man called Merlin) who is the only one who remembers Earth and what humanity's technology looked like. And she/he is helping along the social and intellectual changes and advances that characterized the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In other words, what takes two centuries in Europe is taking only a few years in the country of Charis (roughly parallel to England in the 16th Century, but with far more respectable leaders than Henry VIII).One of the things that I'm really loving about this particular series is how Weber treats religion. Most sci-fi and even fantasy authors are rather abysmal at it: religion is either a source of evil (a la Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series), or a crutch for the weak, or just a cover for institutional magic (in the case of most fantasy). Sci-fi authors are more likely to take a look at religion in order to dismiss it: they like to take the lid off, poke and prod around as if it were another scientific object, and say, "see? not really God behind it after all!" and the only people who still believe at the end--if anyone ever really did in the first place--are the bad guys. Admittedly, there are some authors who manage to be more subtle or complex, and certainly there are sci-fi/fantasy authors with religious sympathies, but in the end, there just aren't many who pull off dealing with religion in any way that I can enjoy or respect. As a result, I usually just prefer my sci-fi authors to leave off religious questions and just deal with moral or ethical ones so that I don't get terribly depressed with how badly they do it.Weber takes a much more complex view of religion in the Safehold series (as he does in the Honor Harrington ones, to a certain extent), and it is one I really do appreciate. Even in a world where there is PROOF that the religious system was manufactured by human beings masquereding as Archangels and Gods, Weber treats those who believe with a significant amount of respect--and as if they might be right to continue to believe. Unlike Pullman, he is able to offer significant critiques of corruption in church heirarchies without falling into the trap of dismissing religion or those who believe altogether. This is where Weber's decision to draw on 16th and 17th century England, in particular, seems to have helped him--or maybe his desire to treat religious schism and reform while maintaining respect for his characters who keep their belief led him to use the 16th and 17th century as a model. He allows religion to transform characters for the better--maybe not completely, but there are at least two corrupt religious officials who, upon starting to read "the Writ" again, regain their faith and start questioning the problems in their society. One dies a martyr, and the other... well, at the end of Schism, we don't quite kn
I'm giving up on this series. Who wants to read 8 pages in a chapter, learn the life history of a new character, only to have him killed at the end of the chapter and not advance the plot at all? Weber seems to be a master of not advancing the plot in this book. I loved the overarching theme of this series, but I don't love wading through 700 pages of repetitive, uninteresting dialog and thoughts. Maybe 1/10 of the book had any significant action in it, and the ending was disappointingly anticlimactic.
Normally, I adore David Weber's writings. He's a great conceptual writer, a great world builder.Most of his recent books are losing me.This book continues the trend of the editor not working with the author to eliminate the unneeded drek. It's overly verbose, goes on for too long without real action, and requires a translator for the names. (I'm not improving from the first book.) I think between the first two books, I'd eliminate half and merge them into one book. It would make a simpler, less boring read.Politics is fine as filler, provided you offer the proper action to offset the overarching pain. The author's lost his way with regard to that style of writing. I'll give this series one more try, but if I suffer as much, I'm done.
Ok, I am thoroughly caught up in the story. Safehold really is a four-volume novel - the books stop at crisis points as often as at pauses. This one has the courtship of Queen Sharleyn, the surrender of King Nahrmahn, the massacre in Ferayd, and Mistress Dynnys' arrival. Oh yes, and the minor matter of the Order of Saint Zherneau, where Merlin gets the kind of surprise he was more expecting to hand out... I also finally noticed King Nahrmahn's name - Norman Bates?! It looks like he wasn't expected to turn into a sympathetic character. It's very much a Weber story - politics aside, there's a couple battles that remind me strongly of the early Ghost Rider ones. The raid on Ferayd, in particular, where "...in return for their thirty round shot, [the Charisians] fired almost three thousand back." But the real interest of the story is the characters - as the cardboard villains turn into real people, and the protagonists reveal unexpected depths. I don't enjoy Safehold as much as I do the Honor Harrington stories, but they're pretty good.
I too, enjoyed Into the Woods, although not my favorite. I am, as you may have noticed by my choice of title, more of a Rent fan.
I describe myself as a military science fiction reader. If you feel comfortable with this description, you should enjoy the read. I was drawn in by reading a preview of the first book. I felt some concern about the story line and was wondering if it would go flat. I was happy to find myself thoroughly enjoying each book and looking forward to starting the next. I only hope Mr. Weber continues the series in the same manner as I have encountered so far. I had a previous occasion to fall in love with another authors story line, only to have him drop the series. I hope Mr. Weber continues this series, and comes to a logical thought out end.