01/06/2010. Contributed by Rod MacDonald
pub: Macmillan Audio. unabridged 29 CDs 35 hours. Price: $69.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-42720-900-9. Narrator: Jason Culp.
check out website: http://us.macmillan.com/Book.aspx?isbn=9781427209009
This is the fourth novel in the fourth novel in the 'Safehold' series by David Weber. First he had 'Off Armageddon Reef' followed by 'By Schism Rent Asunder' and 'By Heresies Distressed' and, like its predecessors, 'A Mighty Fortress' is a very large book. In fact, listening to this is a huge undertaking which will occupy a great deal of time and cost quite a lot of money.
Yes, a big book from a big man! David Weber has an awesome output of words and you can guarantee there is a lot more to come from him yet because the 'Safehold' series seems to have plenty of mileage left in it yet.
This is alternate history set in the period of time roughly equivalent to our 17th century. Religion, politics, romance and warfare! They are all here in this novel. There is a division between the Church of God Awaiting and the new breakaway so-called heretics who want to change society to be more free and equitable. We also have naval warfare described with the utmost accuracy, with sails billowing in the wind and the smell of gunpowder in your nostrils. There is romance between the Prince and his Queen, noble in spirit and mind, and also the machinations and plots of devious politicians who make our lot from the House of Commons appear as amateurish plodders.
Jason Culp is the narrator. He made an excellent job of the second novel in the series and now he returns to do justice to this one. I can't imagine the effort of narrating 35 hours! I would have fallen by the wayside long before half-way but he seems to have kept the momentum going throughout the entire book. I think the narrator makes the book a success by his clever characterisation, pronunciation and an ability to do a multitude of accents. Well done Jason Culp, you've earned every cent!
Merlin is still there looking from above, so to speak, with the knowledge that this is the only surviving remnant of humanity following an alien attack almost 1000 years before. None of this really matters because the story is all about the history of conflict between church and state. You will find all the same characters: Cayleb and his Queen Sharleyan plus a multitude of other characters from all walks of life.
This novel is something like 'The Empire Strikes Back'. After early military gains, mainly accomplished at sea, The Church rally their forces and strike back in an attempt to crush the insurrection. Where will this all end up, I ask? Will there be an end to the conflict with peace and tranquillity taking over the planet of Safehold? If the history is anything like our own then I suspect not!
Like some of the combatants in this novel, you need to have plenty of courage and stamina to get through this massive undertaking. If you like alternate history which is well described and is relevant in meaning to our own history and situation today, then this is the stuff for you.
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