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How Firm A Foundation (Safehold series book 5) by David Weber

01/03/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy How Firm A Foundation (Safehold series book 5) in the USA - or Buy How Firm A Foundation (Safehold series book 5) in the UK

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pub: TOR/Forge. 607 page hardback. Price: $27.99 (US), $31.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-2154-1).

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‘How Firm A Foundation’ by David Weber is the fifth in his ‘Safehold’ book series. Other than the exploits of the android avatar, Merlin Athrawes, this reality could almost be an alternative Earth history. Think of the Charis as the Christians and the Church of the Waiting God as Catholics and navy armadas facing each other and you have the template from Earth history. They even have an Inquisition whose members delight in the torture of the enemy. It’s only from the inner sleeve that you realise that the Church’s numbers are significantly larger than Charis and its associated countries but with Merlin helping them to develop their technology, the balance is changing. You would think that it would have been easier had Merlin just gone in and killed the leaders of the Church but he seems preoccupied in hiding just how powerful he really is. Considering his mission is to bring mankind back on track, you would think his plans would have greater scope than shown here.

This book meanders on until nearly a third of the way through before a reveal is made that there might be a second APID being awaken in twenty years time although I would have thought that the name of the Church might have been a giveaway here. Considering that author David Weber gives a year per book, it looks like a couple decades before we see the revelation of that news. I can see readers dying before getting as far as that.

If there is a common theme with this book, then it’s the church fights back, mostly in the form of sabotage. This also tends to show Weber’s weakness as he’s so caught up in giving detail that there is a lack of emotional intensity and with such a wide range of characters, you aren’t given enough detail to care for the characters fates and ultimately, many become cannon-fodder…literally. When there are fifteen pages of character names and over the number detailing other aspects of this planet, I do wonder what a reader new to these books would think because it would look intimidating.

Weber’s knowledge of naval battles and such is interesting but this far into the series, I really think he needs to do something to speed things up and do something more revolutionary than just introduce a new gun than just churn the books out.

GF Willmetts

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This book has 84 votes in the sci-fi charts

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