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April 25, 2010

A Mighty Fortress (Safehold Book 04) by David Weber

Filed under: Reviews-Science Fiction — Suramya @ 11:51 PM

A Mighty Fortress (Safehold Book 04)
by David Weber


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:The 4th book in the Safehold series continues the tale of Charis’ war with the Mother Church. Now that the initial quick battles are done both sides settle down for a long war with each other and set about preparing for it.

There are a lot of naval battles in the book and Weber shows his expertise in sailing in his depictions of naval battles. Although all the sailing terms does get a bit confusing for someone who doesn’t know a lot about sailing (like me) but if you know sailing then the battles will sound very realistic to you. I personaly ended up skimming through some of the longer battle sequences where a lot of technical terms were thrown around but that’s just me.

A couple of things irritated/bugged me about the book/series, they are mostly minor things still…

In the book they call a week Five-days instead of a week. Once or twice is ok but when you keep seeing it over and over especially when you are expecting to read ‘week’ it gets annoying. e.g. They would say something like: ‘It will take us about a month to do this or 8 five-days at the worst’. More than anything else it jars you out of the narrative. There is not a lot Weber can do in this series as the world is set but its something he should keep in mind for the next series.

The other issue I have is his tendency to switch between the name and title of a person in the same narrative. i.e. In the first line of a paragraph he would use the title of a person (like Rock Point) to adress them and a couple of lines later would address then with their first name or last name. Its understandable when a character uses a first name but when its done as part of the narrative it gets confusing. This is a trend I have seen in most of his novels including the Harrington series.

The book does a great job of going over previous events when needed so I didn’t have to go back to the previous books to figure out what happened when. Which is a rare trait in authors. I love the way he explains the finer points of a particular issue or a theorem by making the characters explain it to each other or in a flashback without sounding forced or stilted.

Final recommendation: A great novel. Can’t wait for the next book in the series.

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