By Heresies Distressed by David Weber
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Now the battle for the soul of the planet Safehold has begun.
The Kingdom of Charis and the Kingdom of Chisholm have joined together, pledged to stand against the tyranny of a corrupt Church. The youthful Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm has wed King Cayleb of Charis, forging a single dynasty, a single empire, dedicated to the defense of human freedom. Crowned Empress of that empire, Sharleyan has found in Cayleb’s arms the love she never dared hope for in a “marriage of state.” In Cayleb’s cause, his defiance of the ruthless Group of Four who govern mother Church, she has found the task to which she can commit her mind and her courage. It is a cause for which she was born.
Yet there are things Sharleyan still does not know. Secrets Cayleb has not been permitted to share, even with her. Secrets like the true story of humanity on Safehold. Like the intricate web of lies, deception, and fabricated “religion” which have chained humanity for almost a thousand years. Like the existence of the genocidal alien Gbaba, waiting to complete mankind’s destruction should humans ever attract their attention once more. Like the existence of a young woman, Nimue Alban, nine hundred years dead, whose heart, mind, and memories live on within the android body of the warrior-monk she knows as Merlin.
And so Empress Sharleyan faces the the great challenge of her life unaware of all that task truly entails…or of how the secrets the man who loves her cannot share may threaten all they have achieved between them…and her own life
That summary is kind of misleading…. *sigh*
Well, I’m glad I stuck with this series because it continues to get better and better. Yes, there are still problems – the names remain a major one for me, unfortunately. They continue to distract me as I try to figure out exactly how to pronounce them.
But overall, I’m definitely finding this series gets more enjoyable as time goes on and books pass. The number of female characters continues to increase, and they get more POV scenes, which is fantastic. There’s been less technical talk – or I’m getting more used to it – so the books flow a lot quicker for me. And Merlin’s fallibility is getting played up more, which is great, because an omniscient, omnipotent main character is boring.
On the other hand, I don’t think the stakes for the characters I care about are particularly high. Well, a little bit for some of them in this one, but overall, I don’t worry that they’re going to die. As the Church wakes up more and more to what’s really going on, and as people believe misconceptions or refuse to stand up to them, yes, yes I do start to fear for people. But not for those I care most about.
Overall, however, the series continues to improve. Still not as good as the Honorverse, in my mind, but Weber’s definitely hit his stride with this series. 4 out of 5 stars, and here’s hoping the rest of the series continues the trend.