How Firm a Foundation (Safehold Book 5)
MacMillan Audio, 2011
I missed out on reviewing David Weber’s fourth Safehold novel A Mighy Fortress. The audiobook just got lost in the shuffle at the time. However, when the fine folks MacMillan Audio offered me a review copy of How Firm a Foundation I jumped at the chance and am I glad I did. My initial feelings towards the first few volumes of David Weber’s Safehold novels were typically positive with some reservations. My major complaints for By Schism Rent Asunder were outlined primarily as follows:
Weber’s perimise, conceptually a pre-industrial Earth set about reclaiming and rediscovering technology is both a fascinating exercise in science fiction and a frequent narrative trap. The latter occurs through often lengthy dialogue, or worse internal monologue, passages where characters are forced to come up with or reconceive (sic) object, tools, and theories in a way slightly different, or wholly new, from what we the reader might be familiar with. At the same time these rediscoveries must deal with as yet undefined scriptures of the church that prevent certain undefined technologies. Weber frequently gets bogged down in these explanations which despite being interesting reduce the novel’s pace to a crawl.
With How Firm a Foundation (hereafter HFF) that quibble has by and large disappeared. As Merlin’s secret has been outed to more and more people over the course of the series the narrative has been able to open up and include more detail on the characters and political maneuverings across the surface of Safehold. HFF is for me the first time this series has moved beyond being good into being something great.
Note: Having listened to the audio and only listened to the audio I can guarantee that I have spelled some if not all the character’s names wrong. Weber’s decision to spell things oddly (Caleb as Cayleb, Merlin as Merlyn, etc.) doesn’t help at all either.