7/2013: David Weber, “Off Armageddon Reef”

Since the 5th book in the Safehold series came out, I thought I’d go ahead and nominate the first one. The series is about a remnant human population which was knocked back to a preindustrial level of technology and kept there by a manufactured religion. Almost 1000 years after the colony was founded, an android left by another faction within the group that established the colony wakes up and is working to free the people of Safehold from the constraints that were placed on them.

Not really sure what else to put here since this is the first time I’ve nominated anything for the book club.

I grabbed a copy of this at a used book sale recently and am eager to crack it open. I’ve got the last three Honorverse books to finish - Storm from the Shadows, Torch of Freedom, and Mission of Honor - and then I’m thinking about checking out Off Armageddon Reef.

Good choice. I haven’t had a chance to read How Firm a Foundation yet, it’ll be a few weeks as I’m in the middle of a Honorverse re-read (about 1/4 into Storm From the Shadows, I’m really looking forward to Mission of Honor again, and roll on A Rising Thunder). Plus I want to read the first four Safehold books again. I really enjoyed the safehold series. It’s somewhat similar to the Honoverse in that it combines Sci-fi and the Napoleonic era, although it does it in a different way.

I’m very pleased to announce that (thanks to one late vote change which broke the 5-way tie) the Book Club selection for July and August is Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber!

Spyglass was the net of surveillance satellites stretched around the periphery of the star system’s hyper limit. They were completely passive, hopefully all but impossible to detect, and they weren’t there for Swiftsure’s benefit. Their take - all of it - was being beamed after Antelope, to make certain she had full and complete tactical records as of the moment she hypered out. And that same information was being transmitted to Antelope’s sister ship, TFNS Gazelle, as she lay totally covert in orbit around the system’s outermost gas giant.

Her task was to remain hidden until the end, if she could, and then to report back to Old Earth."


Oops, just noticed this.

I would recommend the audiobook for people reading this, because many names are spelled rather oddly. Guess I’ll be taking a break from catching up on some podcasts I just started listening to in order to listen to this again.

I’ve been recently listening to the audiobooks myself. You are correct, the names can be a bit hard to follow, but when spoken they are normal enough. I’m about halfway through A Mighty Fortress at the moment. I thought I had timed my re-read (or listen I guess) to end just about when the next book ‘Like a Mighty Army’ was due out. I expected that to be around September, unfortunately it’s been pushed back to February.

I had forgotten how long the prologue is. It took more than 2 hours on the audiobook before the Nimue PICA woke up. I suppose it falls under “show, don’t tell”, but I think some of the stuff on early Safehold could have been trimmed unless it comes into play later.

[spoiler]I think the “Adam” there might be the ancestor of the Wylsynns, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet[/spoiler]

About half way through this listen. I’d forgotten how minor of a roleAhnzhelyk had in this one. And there are a few characters who had passable roles in this book that seem to only be mentioned, if that, later on.

One thing that’s kind of annoying me this time around is that after they mention Nimue/Merlin setting governors on strength and stuff to avoid doing anything too outlandish, she overrides them every time she’s in combat (even though they’re already set about 20% higher than a normal human.

Finished listening today. It’s easy to forget just how brutal combat was in the equivalent time period here. With the galleys, it was one or two rounds from cannons, then the ships pretty much rammed each other and started in on hand to hand combat. And Weber doesn’t pull any punches describing that.

There was some nice foreshadowing of something that’s in the next book with certain reactions (or lack thereof). I’m being purposely vague for people who haven’t read the whole series yet.

This is in response to your spoiler text, so it’s using info from the rest of the series. If you haven’t read it, please avoid
[spoiler]Wasn’t it all but confirmed that the Wylsynns were descendants of Schuler himself?[/spoiler]

Same. Spoilers for later in the series
[spoiler]They have the recording device from Scheuler with the holographic message and the Key to whatever it is below the temple, but it hasn’t been confirmed that they’re actually descendants. Family stories say that, but I doubt the “archangels” would have bred with normal humans. While it was never stated, I wouldn’t be surprised if the plan before the nuke was that after the archangels passed on, they would come back in a “new form” (really one of their children).[/spoiler]

On a slightly related non-spoiler note, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least some of the early sejinn stories were based on “holy warriors” who were given “magic” weapons by the archangels to root out heresy. Since then, some have been frauds claiming to be sejinn and others have been pure fiction.

Quick note to try spurring some discussion: This is brought up a few places throughout the series, but when you get down to it, going by definitions in the Writ, Merlin really is a demon. Not only was he a friend of Shan-wei, but he’s also a piece of sentient technology.

Here’s my theory about where things are going:

[spoiler]Our protagonist is worried about bringing any technology too close to the church, right? There’s a power source there but she doesn’t know what it is. I predict that we’ll find out Schuler is in deep freeze and will wake up on the 1,000 year anniversary. That, or a similarly hacked PICA. This way Nimue has a direct adversary who knows how to use technology to fight against the heresy. [/spoiler]

It’s gonna happen and will do so right when things seem to be going full tilt in Charis’s favor.

Spoilers for later books

[spoiler]I think they said 1000 years is too long for cryo-sleep, so it would have to be either another PICA or an AI like Owl or (double spoiler) Nahrman that is just in standby mode or something like that (woken either on the timer or with The Key). The temple was built after the nuke took out most of Langhorn’s inner circle, so it’s probably based on either whoever updated the Writ after the War of the Archangels or one of the minor angels (or both if none of the “archangels” survived).

My guess is that the Group of Four only has 1-2 books left before they’re broken. Of course, when the time comes to reveal the truth, that’s going to lead to an even nastier war (another few books and probably where The Thing Below The Temple comes into play). And then hopefully 1-2 books about them building up to return to space and fight the Gbaba.

And I’m still waiting for whoever had the book before me to return it to the public library… :frowning:

(spoiler)I can’t believe the big reveal in the last book about it being the Honorverse with the Gbaba just a Solarian hoax! (/spoiler)

EDIT: Am I using the spoiler tag right? It looks like it’s not working.

tee hee hee, just giving you a hard time, Casilda. :wink:

Heh, reminds me of a joke David Weber pulled on his forum in his slightly more long-winded fashion:


I browse Weber’s forum regularly and I missed that one. It was hilarious, I especially like the “Tomanāk-class transport”. I read Heirs of Empire after I read the first few Safehold books. You can certainly see the beginnings of Safehold in that book. I must read that trilogy again.

It took me awhile but I finally got through it. I enjoyed it and have requested the next volume in the series from the library…

I like the characters, I really like the frame for the world, I like the politics (and the church politics).

That said I found some of the writing to be a bit clunky, especially in the detail about the technological innovations. I also wish that there had been more exploration of what’s going on with Nimue/Merlin as a consciousness and the gendered issues involved (alluded to but those are particularly interesting to me). Either way, I’m reading the next book.

Good to hear. David Weber does tend to go a bit overboard on the tech stuff at times in all his works. I think it gets better once certain events happen in later books, but I can see how that could be an issue for some people. The politics (and especially Church politics) continue to play a massive role in the later books and get even more twisty as the series goes on.

The gender issues don’t come up all that much, but they do get into some of the metaphysics a bit (does Merlin have Nimue’s soul, etc) once that event happens. Occasionally, and especially in the most recent book they also address his/her massive survivor’s guilt/post-traumatic stress issues from being the last survivor of the war with the Gbaba and blaming himself/herself for the conflict between Charis and the Church and all the people who are dying as a result of that.