Like a Mighty Army (Safehold #7) by David Weber
Synopsis from GoodReads:
For centuries, the world of Safehold, last redoubt of the human race, lay under the unchallenged rule of the Church of God Awaiting. The Church permitted nothing new-no new inventions, no new understandings of the world.
What no one knew was that the Church was an elaborate fraud–a high-tech system established by a rebel faction of Safehold’s founders, meant to keep humanity hidden from the powerful alien race that had destroyed old Earth.
Then awoke Merlyn Athrawes, cybernetic avatar of a warrior a thousand years dead, felled in the war in which Earth was lost. Monk, warrior, counselor to princes and kings, Merlyn has one purpose: to restart the history of the too-long-hidden human race.
And now the fight is thoroughly underway. The island empire of Charis has declared its independence from the Church, and with Merlyn’s help has vaulted forward into a new age of steam-powered efficiency. Fending off the wounded Church, Charis has drawn more and more of the countries of Safehold to the cause of independence and self-determination. But at a heavy cost in bloodshed and loss–a cost felt by nobody more keenly that Merlyn Athrawes.
The wounded Church is regrouping. Its armies and resources are vast. The fight for humanity’s future isn’t over, and won’t be over soon…
If you count actual reading time, this was a very quick read. Which is impressive considering the size of this book and the fact that I’m still stopping every so often to puzzle over names.
But the fact that I’m still reading this series certainly does say something, I think, about the engagement level. And, quite honestly, I do still think that this series is quite engaging even if almost none of my criticisms have changed over the course of seven book.
I’m still struggling with the names. I’m still skimming a lot of the industrial revolution passages. And I’m still not happy with the comparative paucity of female voices.
But we’re getting more female voices as the series continues, and all of them belong to women who are doing things, not having things done to them (for the most part). We’re getting more exploration of Merlin vs. Nimue, which has been another of my consistent criticisms. Thanks to certain spoilery developments I’m expecting more, but so far we haven’t gotten as much as I thought we’d get thanks to said developments. But I live in hope.
And, of course, the exploration of philosophy, religion, and human nature continues to be top-notch. I can’t say it’s always as in-depth as I would like, but Weber is definitely not shying away from exploring what happens with civil war, religious war, and slave rebellions – on BOTH sides of all three of those. This started with the last book but I have to say that I’m very impressed by the way he’s continued to show men on both sides who are trying to stop atrocities – and men on both sides who are more than happy to descend to that level. I hesitate to say women since we still have so few of them and almost none in combat situations.
I will say that there is definitely clear bias in that most of the ‘gross’ POVs belong to the side opposing our protagonists but that does also have to do with who started what and who’s more willing to descend into horror, so in a way it’s believable and it doesn’t disrupt my experience WHILE I’m reading.
This is still probably my least favorite of the Weber series I’ve read, but that’s not to say I dislike it. If you like naval battles, the industrial revolution, and don’t mind the horror and gore that come along with religious warfare, I encourage you to give this series a try.
3.5 out of 5 stars, and here’s hoping the rest of the series keeps getting better.