At the Sign of Triumph (Safehold)
by David Weber
Cover Artist: Stephen Youll
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765325587
Date: 08 November 2016 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
One host is defeated but another awaits. The Church always seems to have more resources to draw upon, but as deep as their pockets and resources are, they are still finite. In a war of attrition, depth is a valuable commodity. The resources of Charis and her allies are growing, but there are signs of stress there as well. There is also a limit to the amount of time available to make the changes needed to force humans down the path back to the stars. Events finally come to a head as the title suggests.
The combined forces of the Charisian Empire and the Republic of Siddarmark broke free of the passes where they held off the initial Church of God Awaiting's assault. Now they have new technology to give an advantage if they can create an opportunity. If their ploy fails, an expensive grinding campaign awaits.
Grand Inquisitor Zhaspahr Clyntahn is getting worried. The more trapped he feels, the more he lashes out. He is willing to go after anyone he thinks is in his way or against him. This creates tension in the Temple Lands as the city of Zion. The continued pressure may create opportunities for those who want to see the Church change or fall.
The remaining countries supporting the Church are also under pressure. They see the need for change or how they are falling behind. The gathering of hostages does not make the people and rulers want to support the continuing crusade. Given the chance, some may want to go their own way and end the war which is killing both people and commerce.
This the ninth book in the Safehold series. As such it isn't the best starting point for new readers. For people who enjoy age of sail adventures, this series is worth reading. It also appeals to people who enjoy gearing up adventures. Although the pace of technological growth is fast it is currently being limited to make it more natural and to avoid some of the things which could activate the technology which could destroy cities.
This is a nice blend of historical combat and survival fiction. Mankind is hidden away in the far reaches of the galaxy. Hiding was their only hope to survive. Now humanity must relearn what it has lost, but to do it, they have to throw off the chains of religion. The current Charisian battle for survival is exactly the preparation humans will need to survive in their next encounter with the Gbaba who in many ways are very similar to the Church.
Is this the end of the series? No, there is a long ways to go yet. The mystery of what or who is under the Temple remains to be solved. There were some very satisfying moments, some of which proved Merlin and Caleb Ahrmahk are much better people than I am. But sometimes a little mercy can go a long ways. Safehold is in store for some interesting times in the coming years.