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2.9 out of 5 stars33
2.9 out of 5 stars
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on 1 July 2011
There are a great many things wrong with this book, starting with the cover art: it has a flying saucer zapping a sailing ship with a death ray, something that - thankfully - doesn't happen in the book. Then there's the length: over a thousand pages, making it thicker and heavier than my copy of the bible, although admittedly the typeface is larger. And it is at least a better story than the bible, making use of such advanced techniques as causes preceding effects, characters having believable motivations etc. Trouble is, it's still not that good. Much of that length is taken up by lengthy internal monologues which serve to set the scene but which digress to such an extent that, when they occur in the middle of a conversation (as they almost invariably do) it's hard to keep track and is terribly jarring when a character finally decides to say something. And there's nothing exciting and new at all when compared to the earlier books in the series. It's merely a small development of themes that we're already very familiar with from the first three volumes. Add to that a cast of so many characters that the appendix listing them all covers 32 pages, and that they all have idiotic names which are based on normal names but with all the vowels hideously butchered, and it's too easy to lose track of what's going on.

I quite enjoyed reading it, but it's dreadfully flawed.
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on 8 February 2012
I feel I have to add to other reviewers slating this book.

The series started spectacularly well - 'Off Armageddon Reef' was a really interesting book. We had space battles, a fleeing colony, a corrupt social system to overcome. All very interesting. However, books 2, 3 and 4 then stuck us in an 18th century world with very little sci fi.

I think Weber completely misjudged his readership. Anyone who read the first book and enjoyed it enjoyed their sci fi. Anyone that enjoys the later books obviously prefers their naval history and pondering storylines. These two groups are quite different.

Unless the next book picks up the development, has humanity starting to gear up to fight their nemesis etc., I'm going to give up on Weber's reading entirely. I've wasted enough money on a story not going anywhere.
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on 25 August 2011
This whole series seems to be getting slower and slower.

I took the first book away on vacation (on my kindle) and found the whole fleeing from Earth premise quite fun. I watched the hero of the piece start to introduce new technologies to the society where he wakes and I thought it might be good to read the rest, so I downloaded them.

What did I get? A cleverly tweaked replay of the history of the British Empire, a series of sea-battles and a bunch of unpronounceable names!

After the first burst of techno-intervention, our hero has been very careful not to unduly influence the rate of innovation and that has stuck the whole series in a time where there are only endless sea-battles to be described. I'm sure that I've learned a lot about topmasts etc. but if this society is ever to defeat the alien menace from the first book, I'm going to have to wade though hundreds of years of technological innovation seemingly carried out at only a slightly accelerated pace. Is this going to be a 100 novel series I have to wonder?

As for the names...well they've been mentioned in other reviews already. Take a normal name, replace the vowels with "y" and the G's and J's with "Zh" and you have it. It's a cheap gimmick and just wears thin after 4 books. Anyway, it's just occured to me that the hero Merlin should probably be called Myrlyn - so why isn't he?

All-in-all I'm too far into this series to give up now, I may carry on. My advice is to buy the first book, enjoy the idea and then run for the hills - unless you want to be an 18th century fighting ships expert.
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on 23 May 2011
I'm a big fan of David Weber. And I'm a big fan of the Safehold series. But this book...

I understand we're dealing with rebuilding a world and a society. I understand that a good story has a proper flow and lengh, and has to be properly told. But this book is simply too *slow*! There's simply too much going on, too many secondary characters poping up (we have a 37 page index of names, for Langhorne's sake!), too many locations, too many descriptions. The story grinds down for the sake of too many useless details. A certain tutor's journey to Zion, for example, could have been dealt with in just a few pages, rather than entire chapters. It's what happens in Zion that matters, not all the ity-bity stuff on the way (a full description of a hotel? Really?...).

I like where the book leads us in the end, but getting there almost becomes a chore, rather than a pleasure. I think that, even without loosing charaters, some editing of descriptions and journeys would have chopped 10-15% off the book... and nothing of the story would be lost.

Mr Weber, please: I can tell that you really loved to write all that but, for the sake of your fans (and of the story) cut down a bit on the extras.
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on 13 August 2011
I'm a big fan of David Weber's work and this isn't up to his usual standard. It's far longer than necessary and it's not until half way through the two-inch thick book that things start to get interesting. The ending is also anticlimactic given how long the run-up to it is.

I bought the earlier books of this series in hardback but having been disappointed by the second and third books waited for the paperback for this one. Glad I did and will do the same for the next one - not worth the extra money for the hardback and I'm not gripped by the series enough to want the next one quickly.
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on 17 September 2011
I enjoyed the Dahak series by David Weber, even though I found some of the prose during "conversations" in Elizabethan English a bit self indulgent and hard to follow. However, I enjoyed the adventures of Emperor Colin enough to persuade me to buy "Off Armageddon Reef" in anticipation of a good read. After I'd overcome my disappointment that the basic story line, (struggle to free a technologically retarded planet from the grip of religious hierarchy) was just a development of "Heirs Of Empire" the last book in the Dahak series, I then became increasingly irritated that Weber also allowed his affectation for difficult names to run riot on Safehold. Why does it need characters called "Nahrmhan" and "Ehdwryd" (Norman and Edward would be much easier to read and follow!). Despite this I enjoyed "Off Armageddon Reef", waded through "By schism rent asunder" but by "Heresies Distressed" I was ready to give up on Safehold. However, I relented and bought "A Mighty Fortress" It actually started well, with a test of the orbital weapon system's sensitivity to the introduction of steam power. Good stuff I thought, unfortunately most of the next thirty pages were given over to a description of a Charisian Galleon in a storm. I don't really want to read stories about sailing ships and storms and by page 25 I was flicking pages to get to something I actually wanted to read, which wasn't until page 57. The book has now gone onto the pile of volumes that I might pick up again one day if I have nothing better to do. I think David Weber is now writing books he wants to write (I assume for the money) but which I no longer want to read. Time for me to find another author I think. In my opinion, anyone thinking of buying this book, or indeed any of the "Safehold" Series, sshould read the Dahak series instead and then call it a day.
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on 11 July 2011
I generally don't bother to write reviews of books I've read (rather spend time reading more books) but this one compelled me to write one. Horrible book, total waste of time. Bad prose, huge number of confusingly named characters, "tell, don't show" -style of writing, and no content. Earlier books in the series have been going downhill (the first one was quite enjoyable), and this is the bottom. Don't buy this one, I am sorry I did.
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on 26 August 2011
I count myself as a bit of a David Weber fan and have read many of his books. Usually I love them.

Unfortunately I have to agree with all the negative comments. I really had to force myself to finish this book. It dragged and was ponderous. I won't be reading the next unless it gets some good reviews - I don't want to put myself though that again.

Sorry David - we all know you can do better
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on 3 March 2013
The author obviously loves sailing and the world of galleons and there's a lot of affection in the writing - and, I suspect, a great deal of accuracy. He also communicates a clear Christian commitment - which makes it all the more strange that he has chosen as his combatants the leaders of a corrupt "church". (I guess he would argue that one theme of the books is the difference between faith and religion.)

The series is somewhat protracted and could have done with some heavy editing (hence the loss of stars). There were also one or two places where I found it difficult to accept the basic premises behind the books. Some of the dialogue was also a bit twee and I found myself wincing at attempts to express affection or humour.

Nevertheless, if you want a good swash-buckling read without too much effort, then these fit the bill.
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on 19 June 2014
David Weber's highly readable series immerses us again into the fascinating and engaging realms of Safehold, where Merlin Athrawes and his Charisian allies continue to fight against the might and corruption of the Church of God Awaiting. In this forth volume, the stakes for both sides continue to mount and the far larger issues behind this begin to become more apparent to those who must risk all to save the future of their world and of mankind. Beautifully written, with some great characters and an increasingly expanding scope of plot - well worth a read.
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