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How Firm a Foundation (Safehold) by David Weber
Cover Artist: Stephen Youll
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765321541
Date: 13 September 2011 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

For a world named Safehold, there is very little safety. The battle between the Charisian Empire and the Church continues. Nobody is truly safe, even those that seem to be of use to the Church. There are fractures and even the Church’s firmest allies are at risk when Clynton wants something.

The Empire of Charis is coming together. Caleb and Sharleyan are bringing the disparate lands together. The people they are working with are committed to success and survival. The group that knows the truth about Merlin Athrawes is growing, and none too soon. The Church’s new infiltration activities are all too effective.

To this point, the Republic of Siddarmark has been allowed to continue to trade with the Charisian Empire. Although the trade is allowed to continue, plans are being made to change that. But Greyghor Stohnar … has allies he doesn’t know, stronger than he and his enemies would imagine. That ally will determine the fate of the Republic of Siddarmark.

The people of Chisolm have been resistant to Charisian rule. The young prince Daivyn, in Delferahk, is the legitimate heir. His survival is important to both sides, at first. His sister Irys may be one of the few people he can truly trust. But a strange gift, will herald his best chance to prosper.

The young adopted Aplyn-ahrmahk is earning his keep and proving his worth in the Charisian Navy. No royal is protected from that duty. He must survive the right of passage that is coming into being, the broadside duel. The Charisian Empire’s technological advantage helps, but at some point battles are won and lost by twists of fate once the cannon balls start flying.

If the Charisian’s have any say in it, Safehold will move towards a technological future. But there is a deadline. One that nobody knew was coming. The coming novels will detail the race against this deadline.

This series has a huge cast of characters. I truly appreciate the “characters” section at the end. I had to refer to it several times to remind myself about a few of the minor characters. Because this is the future, and language has progressed, in the future I would love it if a pronunciation for each name was included. I get some of the names easily, but other times I struggle. Learning to differentiate some of the names is one of the reasons that I really enjoyed listening to the audio version of Off Armageddon’s Reef.

This is the fifth book of the Safehold series. As there are many characters and developments that were introduced in the first four books, this is not the place to start reading the series. This series is different from the Honor Harrington books that are Weber’s bread and butter. It is different in setting, not in writing or excitement. For fans of age of sail novels, like the Horatio Hornblower series, this is the science fiction for you.

This series is still moving right along. The final confrontation between the Church and the Charisian Empire is getting closer. The development is fun to watch, but I am ready for some real head to head action. I look forward to the continued developments, as do many other readers.

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