Select one of the keywords
How Firm a Foundation: Safehold #5    by David Weber order for
How Firm a Foundation
by David Weber
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

How Firm a Foundation is the fifth in David Weber's stellar Safehold series, the previous episode being A Mighty Fortress. It's turning into quite a saga. In this series, Merlin, an immortal Personality-Integrated Cybernetic Avatar (PICA) has shepherded the evolution of the Safehold colony after the alien Gbaba almost annihilated mankind. To prevent the aliens finding the colony, it was established at a primitive level, the Church of God Awaiting carefully controlling its development.

Merlin, once Federation Navy Lieutenant Commander Nimue Alban, manipulated events in liberal Charis, secretly assisting the island kingdom with satellite-informed visions against Church-led annihilation. Charis's Crown Prince Cayleb ascended the throne after his father's death and wed Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm, sharing power in a new Empire. Cayleb defeated Prince Hektor of Corisande (for whose assassination he was unjustly blamed). The Group of Four brutally slaughtered dissident clergy and their families. The inner circle of individuals aware of the true history of Safehold grew slowly, and technological development continued to accelerate on Charis.

As has happened from the beginning, good people continue to die in terrible ways in How Firm a Foundation. Captured Charisian sailors are handed over (against all the rules of war) to the Inquisition for public torture and execution. And the Group of Four launches a series of terrorist attacks on the Empire that slaughter the innocent as well as key figures readers have come to know and care for. I appreciated the author's comment (through Pahrsahn) that 'the very first thing that happens with any zealot is that he removes his brain just in case any thoughts that might challenge his zealotry should happen to stray into it.'

In Delferahk, where Princess Irys and Prince Daivyn of Corisande have taken refuge, some plot to assure their safety (and continued survival) while the Group of Four considers when to execute them (blaming Charis of course). There's plenty of excitement and major battles, as well as smaller actions in How Firm a Foundation. But what I found most intriguing was Paityr Wylsynn's revelation of his family legacy after he's brought into Merlin's inner circle. Merlin has always feared the power sources under the Temple. Now it seems that other PICAs might emerge to change the balance of power - they might side with the Temple.

Of course, Safehold fans will have to wait for the next episode to see how this develops - and to enjoy watching the sparks fly as Princess Irys comes face to face with Queen Sharleyan. I look forward to it.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more SF books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews