How Firm a Foundation
Tor, Sep 13 2011, $27.99
The leaders of the five year old Charisian Empire has won many battles at sea against the much bigger Church of God Awaiting that declared Emperor Cayleb, Empress Sharleyan and their supporters as heretics. The hero of the naval warfare, Cayleb understands the impact of the enemy’s religious terrorism and the diabolical isolation scheme, but is unsure what his small nation can do to end the reign of terror.
Besides an insidious propaganda campaign that excommunicates critics, the Church deploys assassins to kill the empire’s leaders and anyone on the Safehold mainland supporting Charisian. The Inquisitors torture anyone to send the message to those who consider allying with Charisian. In that scenario as the cruel foe tightens the knot around the island, the cybernetic avatar of long dead Merlin believes the answer lies dormant underneath Zion’s Temple in the heart of the Church of God Awaiting.
The fifth Safehold science fiction thriller (see By Heresies Distressed and A Mighty Fortress) contains the usual military warfare but at much smaller scale due to the reign of terror campaign. The story line also focuses on the social and political issues facing those in opposition to the Church. Safehold focuses on a theocracy that brutally stomps on individual rights. The fear of freedom that Charisian represents is violently opposed by religious dogma that what the Church does is Godly even sacrificing the innocent. Cayleb remains a strong hero though still somewhat Harrington-light as he is more confortable at war than at running a country. Readers will relish David Weber's latest powerful condemnation of those who equate their church is the state; or oligopoly dictating society. Harriet Klausner