Review – At the Sign of Triumph

At the Sign of Triumph (Safehold #9)At the Sign of Triumph (Safehold #9) by David Weber
Synopsis from GoodReads:
The Church of God Awaiting’s triumph over Charis was inevitable. Despite its prosperity, the Charis was a single, small island realm. It boasted less than two percent of the total population of Safehold. How could it possibly resist total destruction? The Church had every reason to be confident of a swift, crushing victory, an object lesson to other rebels.

But Charis had something far more powerful than simple numbers. It had a king, a crown prince, and a navy prepared to die where they stood in its defense. It had the Brethren of Saint Zherneau, who knew the truth about Safehold’s founding. Who knew that the Church of God Awaiting was a monstrous lie. And it had Merlin Athrawes, last survivor of long-vanished Earth. Merlin, the cybernetic avatar of a woman dead over a thousand years, who was determined to break the Church’s grip upon the human mind and soul.

So after eight years of war, it is not Charis but the Church that stands upon the brink of defeat. But the Church still commands immense resources, and — faced with the unthinkable — it’s decided that it, too, must embrace the forbidden technology which has carried Charis so far.

In the end, it is simple, for only one can survive. The lines are drawn, the navies and armies have been raised, and all of Safehold is poised for the final battle between those who believe in freedom and those who would crush it forever.

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Review – Hell’s Foundations Quiver

Hell's Foundations Quiver (Safehold, #8)

Hell’s Foundations Quiver (Safehold #8) by David Weber
Synopsis from GoodReads:
TURNING OF THE TIDE
Centuries ago, the human race fought its first great war against an alien race—and lost. A tiny population of human beings fled to distant Safehold. Centuries later, their descendants have forgotten their history; for them, life has been an eternal Middle Ages, ruled by the Church of God Awaiting, whose secret purpose is to prevent the reemergence of industrial civilization.
But not all of Safehold’s founders were on board with this plan. Those dissidents left behind their own secret legacies. One of those is Merlin Athrawes, cybernetic avatar of one of Earth’s longdead defenders, now reawakened after a thousand years to restart human progress and reclaim our place in the universe. Merlin has intervened in the small Safeholdian realm of Charis, seeding it with ideas and innovations and helping it to rise to challenge the hegemony of the Church.
It’s been a long and bloody fight, but aided by a stream of inventions—breechloading rifles, signal rockets, claymore mines, new approaches to manufacturing and supply—Charis and its few allies seem to have finally gained the upper hand. Now major realms have begun to consider switching sides.
To all these ends, Merlin Athrawes has been everywhere, under multiple disguises and wielding hidden powers. The secret of who and what he is has been closely held. But a new player has arrived, one who knows many secrets—including Merlin’s own.

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Like a Mighty Army

Like a Mighty Army (Safehold, #7)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…

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Review – Midst Toil and Tribulation

Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold, #6)Midst Toil and Tribulation by David Weber
Synopsis from GoodReads:
WAR AND FAMINE

Once the Church of God Awaiting dominated all the kingdoms of Safehold. Then, after centuries of stasis, the island kingdom of Charis began to defy the edicts of Mother Church–egged on, some say, by the mysterious warrior-monk Merlin Athrawes, who enjoys the Charisian royal family’s absolute trust.

What vanishingly few people know is that Merlin is the cybernetic avatar of a young woman a thousand years dead, felled in the war in which aliens destroyed Earth…and that since awakening, his task has been to restart the history of the long-hidden human race.

Now, reeling from the wars and intrigues that have cascaded from Charis’s declaration of independence, the Republic of Siddermark slides into chaos. The Church has engineered a rebellion, and Siddermark’s all-important harvest is at risk. King Cayleb and Queen Sharleyan struggle to stabilize their ally, which will mean sending troops–but, even more importantly, preventing famine. For mass starvation in Safehold’s breadbasket is a threat even more ominous than civil war…

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Review – How Firm a Foundation

How Firm a Foundation (Safehold, #5)How Firm a Foundation by David Weber
Synopsis from GoodReads:
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?

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Review – A Mighty Fortress

A Mighty Fortress (Safehold, #4)A Mighty Fortress by David Weber
Synopsis from Amazaon (above link to GoodReads):
Young Cayleb Ahrmahk has accomplished things few people could even dream of. Not yet even thirty years old, he’s won the most crushing naval victories in human history. He’s smashed a hostile alliance of no less than five princedoms and won the hand of the beautiful young Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm. Cayleb and Sharleyan have created the Charisian Empire, the greatest naval power in the history of Safehold, and they’ve turned Charis into a place of refuge for all who treasure freedom.

Their success may prove short-lived. The Church of God Awaiting, which controls most of Safehold, has decreed their destruction. Mother Church’s entire purpose is to prevent the very things to which Charis is committed. Since the first attempt to crush the heretics failed, the Church has no choice but to adopt some of the hated Charisian innovations for themselves. Soon a mighty fleet will sail against Cayleb, destroying everything in its path.

But there are still matters about which the Church knows nothing, including Cayleb and Sharleyan’s adviser, friend, and guardian— the mystic warrior-monk named Merlin Athrawes. Merlin knows all about battles against impossible odds, because he is in fact the cybernetic avatar of a young woman named Nimue Alban, who died a thousand years before. As Nimue, Merlin saw the entire Terran Federation go down in fire and slaughter at the hands of a foe it could not defeat. He knows that Safehold is the last human planet in existence, and that the stasis the Church was created to enforce will be the human race’s death sentence if it is allowed to stand.

The juggernaut is rumbling down on Charis, but Merlin Athrawes and a handful of extraordinary human beings stand in its path. The Church is about to discover just how potent the power of human freedom truly is.

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Review – By Heresies Distressed

By Heresies Distressed (Safehold, #3)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 Continue reading