The Church Strikes Back …
I like the Safehold series and How Firm A Foundation is another good installment. Familiarity is sometimes a good thing, reading an author you like writing something like what he has done before. I often go for that in reading series but it also can become a bit repetitive. This is what happened to me here. This is just more of the same, these medieval battles as entertaining as they are, are starting to bore me and even if we are moving into steam and iron. I do expect at least one more book with this slow technological progression until we hit something more advanced, which is something that I am looking forward to. We have the Gbaba aliens that almost exterminated humanity and made them run for Safehold to deal with.
Merlin, Cayleb and Sharleyan are like family now, extended family even and I love reading about them. Their dialogs are witty and often funny. This time it is a bit darker than before. The Group of Four and the Church are impotent at sea due to the new explosive ordnance of the Charisian Navy so they go for the terrorist response instead with terrible results.
Weber shows great historical knowledge down to a very detailed level as usually. The ongoing geopolitical struggle makes sense to me as a reader and it is quite entertaining. The bad guys don’t know what awaits them around the corner.
Merlin explores the limitations of the orbital weapon responses early in the book but later revelations fulfill the promises of the blurb about what is under the Temple. But that is all I am going to say about that.
Bottom line I liked How Firm A Foundation. It has great characters as always and there is progress. Things are starting to get interesting and tense on the mainland. There are things brewing that will be fun to see expanded in the next volume.
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?