In David Weber's How Firm a Foundation, the fifth book in the Safehold series, the Charisian Empire, born in war, has always known it must fight for its very survival. What most of its subjects don't know even now, however, is how much more it's fighting for. Emperor Cayleb, Empress Sharleyan, Merlin Athrawes, and their innermost circle of most trusted advisers do know. And because they do, they know the penalty if they lose will be far worse than their own deaths and the destruction of all they know and love.
For five years, Charis has survived all the Church of God Awaiting and the corrupt men who control it have thrown at the island empire. The price has been high and paid in blood. Despite its chain of hard-fought naval victories, Charis is still on the defensive. It can hold its own at sea, but if it is to survive, it must defeat the Church upon its own ground. Yet how does it invade the mainland and take the war to a foe whose population outnumbers its own fifteen to one? How does it prevent that massive opponent from rebuilding its fleets and attacking yet again?
Charis has no answer to those questions, but needs to find one...quickly. The Inquisition's brutal torture and hideous executions are claiming more and more innocent lives. Its agents are fomenting rebellion against the only mainland realms sympathetic to Charis. Religious terrorists have been dispatched to wreak havoc against the Empire's subjects. Assassins stalk the Emperor and Empress, their allies and advisers, and an innocent young boy, not yet eleven years old, whose father has already been murdered. And Merlin Athrawes, the cybernetic avatar of a young woman a thousand years dead, has finally learned what sleeps beneath the far-off Temple in the Church of God Awaiting's city of Zion.
The men and women fighting for human freedom and tolerance have built a foundation for their struggle in the Empire of Charis with their own blood, but will that foundation be firm enough to survive?
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
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Customer ReviewsSee All
Solid story but placeholder for something bigger
How Firm a Foundation is filled with the "standard Weber structure" which I happen to like very much. The political intrigue, the swashbuckling action, the deeply detailed descriptions are all there. As he has in the past, he gives the reader a deep insight into the characters, allows us to develop a relationship with them, and occasionally, kills them to add emotional depth. All pretty satisfying.
However, in the end, this book felt less "progressive" with regard to the overarching story running through the series. If the fundamental premise is that there's a group of big, bad aliens (the Gbaba) looking to exterminate humanity and one of the main protagonists, Merlin/Nimue, has to get this last pocket of humanity ready for that confrontation, and 5 books into the series, we're getting ready to introduce the steam engine, to this reader, it feels that we won't address the reason for the existence for this human colony on the planet Safehold until 15 or 20 books down the road.
I don't want to sound as if I did not like the book because I did. I enjoy Weber's interaction between old and new technologies and how they affect society. I'm even looking forward to seeing what happens next. I just wish this series would feel more like the Weber/Ringo Prince Roger series (March Upcountry, etc) which lasted 4 books than it does to Weber's immensely popular Honor Harrington series. It is fine to introduce new threats and challenges that the characters and society have to face to continue a series (as he's done in the Honorverse). But here, it just feels like we're a very, very long way from dealing with the underlying threat encountered at the beginning of the series.
Ok, this isn't right
Why should anyone be allowed to write a review of a book they haven't purchased, merely to make a protest about the cost? How about either don't buy it and don't comment, or buy it THEN comment.
If you're very upset over the pricing, write to the publisher. Don't clutter up book review comment sections. (yes, I fully realize the irony of this statement.)
I'll wait a bit
$15 for an e-book seems a bit excessive to me. Considering that I can purchase the hardcover for less.