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How Firm a Foundation (Safehold #5)

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  4,247 Ratings  ·  162 Reviews
In David Weber's How Firm a Foundation, the fifth book in the Safehold series, the Charisian Empire, born in war, has always known it must fight for its very survival. What most of its subjects don't know even now, however, is how much more it's fighting for. Emperor Cayleb, Empress Sharleyan, Merlin Athrawes, and their innermost circle of most trusted advisers do know. An ...more
ebook, 607 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Tor Books
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David Weber's latest Safehold novel, titularly science fiction, has now swept straight into the alternative history segment of the field. True its an alternative history not shaped by events on Earth, but set in a far distant world, but its mostly a story about the conflict between a sailing empire and a religious empire who are coming to blows both at sea between their fleets and on land. Most of the action takes place at sea in the form of two richly detailed engagements and some terrorism on ...more
How Firm a Foundation has an interesting structure in the series and while a lot happens I found it the least satisfying novel to date because all the great moments - and it has a lot of them - are repeats from the earlier four novels - eg we find out what the key is and it is not as mind blowing as Merlin visiting Saint Zherneau in BSRA, or the martyrdoms/Charisian retaliation, wrenching and satisfying respectively still do not compare with Eryk Dynnis and the Delferak hangings to which they ar ...more
Barb in Maryland
Sep 23, 2011 Barb in Maryland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-f-goodies, keepers
Weber has a story to tell and who knows how many books it will take. So fair warning to new readers--this is NOT the place to start. You really need to start with Off Armageddon Reef.

Though at first it seems like all Weber is doing is moving people around, there are a few bits of story arc that are tidied up and brought to a conclusion. A couple of these endings will make readers happy and one will probably break their hearts. And it always nice to catch up with the large cast of continuing char
Larry Jeram-Croft
Nov 23, 2013 Larry Jeram-Croft rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This series started off really well with an excellent premise for a series of books. But the author seems to think we need to know the biography and intimate detail of every character we meet (and there are far, far too many of them anyway). The plot is excellent and the only reason I am continuing to plough through it, although I skip most pages looking for something worth reading. In fact I didn't read the previous book because I got fed up with the style of writing and when I started this one ...more
Oct 14, 2011 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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 peri
May 26, 2012 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the Fifth in the Safehold military science-fiction series that combines high tech with early 19th century technology in a world rent by religious warfare. [If you haven't read the other books, don't read this first. "Off Armageddon Reef" is the first. Read them in order.] I’ve listened to the four prior books as audio books, but couldn’t find the audio of this volume, so I read it – and got very little sleep until I finished it.

I love this series, in part, because it has real depth, not
Sep 29, 2011 Ove rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Church Strikes Back …

I like the Safehold series and How Firm A Foundation is another good installment. Familiarity is sometimes a good thing, reading an author you like writing something like what he has done before. I often go for that in reading series but it also can become a bit repetitive. This is what happened to me here. This is just more of the same, these medieval battles as entertaining as they are, are starting to bore me and even if we are moving into steam and iron. I do expect
Nov 10, 2011 Karina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally fnished. I don't know what it is, this time the book was slow-going. There was a little discontinuity I noticed--one of the Archangels left a some type of video apparently, and the person talking about didn't mention anything about how odd the Archangel sounded, how difficult it was to understand him. The idea is that there were only written records, no spoken audio/video, and the pronounciation shifted. Merlin had to learn the new pronounciations, and this is indicated in the shifted na ...more
Doc Opp
I really do like this series on the whole, and considered four stars, but ultimately felt that it didn't quite make that threshold. The book continues the saga of the realm of Safehold. Readers who have not read the other four books will have no idea what's happening - in fact, after waiting 8 months for this book to come out, I had trouble remembering various story elements, and Weber makes no effort to orient (or re-orient) readers who aren't on top of what's going on.

He also has a tendency t
Jan 17, 2012 Annette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another thoroughly engaging, enjoyable, and occasionally thought provoking entry into Weber's growing "Safehold" series. (And, as this book covered only one calendar year in world, I see every reason to believe it will continue to grow!)
The Empire of Charis continues to dominate the seas, in large part due to their weapons development. And even Corisande, the most belligerent of their acquisitions, shows strong signs of calming down and accepting their rule. But they've still no realistic plan
William Bentrim
Nov 03, 2012 William Bentrim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

How Firm A Foundation by David Weber

Ok, I’m losing count, this is another book in the excellent Safehold series. Safehold is a planet lost from an alien intelligence that has wiped out mankind except for Safehold. Safehold’s founders founded a new religion to deter industrialization in hopes of not attracting the attention of mankind’s nemesis.

The aforementioned theocracy has become dominated by the gang of four. The gang of four, are four corrupt churchmen who will do anything, no matter how d
This book was David Weber at his best. The web he weaves in this story is awesome and is getting better with every book. This book was one of the better ones in the series in that everything is not all rosy, there's a number things that happen that disrupt the plans of the Merlin and team, which highlight that even with all their advantages, they are not omnipotent, that the other guy can be just a smart too.

The tempo seems to be picking up a bit and it's looking like things will come to a head
Same strengths and weaknesses as the previous book (A Mighty Fortress), with one additional weakness: it read at times like a series of vignettes / set pieces that had been thought out beforehand and then glued together. I liked the vignettes, as well as the things I usually like about Weber's books, so it gets three stars, but it is not really worthy of the author of On Basilisk Station.

And I can't stop wondering if he gets paid by the word....
Mar 22, 2014 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fifth book of the series is very enjoyable. I do wonder how long it will take Weber to wrap things up...if he ever does. He has a huge undertaking, but the stories are good.
Brian Durfee
Oct 11, 2011 Brian Durfee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
much improved on books 3&4. More action, less talking about stuff.
Jan 17, 2016 Christopher rated it it was amazing
Review to come! :D
Neil Carstairs
Jan 08, 2017 Neil Carstairs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay. Book 5 of the Safehold series. If you don’t know what’s going on by now then either look away or hunt down Book 1 (Off Armageddon Reef) and start reading.

In a nutshell this is more of the same. Politics, religion, war. The jihad launched by the Church of God Awaiting against the Empire of Charis has gone badly for the Church. Charis has survived, and not only that is now taking the war to the Church.

As with other books in this series Weber relies heavily on sometimes over long scenes of i
Aug 13, 2013 JBradford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of Weber’s Safehold series, but I noted when I posted my review of #4 in that series that a lot of Goodreads members were not … they found the detailed descriptions of operating multi-sailed vessels tedious, they felt the political maneuvering was boring, they did not like the religious background, they objected to Weber’s habit of stepping aside and giving us a detailed account of how certain things work, etc. This is #5 in the series, and those same people will be just as unhapp ...more
Kathy Davie
May 21, 2012 Kathy Davie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fifth in the Safehold military science-fiction series that combines high tech with early 19th century technology in a setting of religious warfare.

How can you tell evil? They're willing to kill anyone. Anyone not on their side is a heretic; anyone on their side is a martyr.

My Take
I hate David Weber. I was hoping that he'd finally conclude this series with this book and, while it appears to be getting close, I find I have to wait for the next installment…! Arghhhh!!! It's making me crazy! This se
Scott Holstad
Mar 21, 2016 Scott Holstad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow! Thank God. How Firm a Foundation is so much better than its predecessor, A Mighty Fortress. A huge improvement. This was a great book to read. It's the fifth book in the Safehold series and Chiris is still fighting for its life against the evil Church of God Awakening. After the Church's complete naval battle destruction at the hands of the Charisian Navy, the Group of Four realize they have to resort to other methods. Or at least Grand Inquisitor Clyntahn does. He's an evil bastard, that o ...more
Marshall Killian
A really great series to read.

All the books in the series are exceptionally well-written with great stories. Once you start you can't put the books down
Joe Santoro
It seems alot of readers of this series felt as if things start to bog down at this point... that Weber is just trying to squeeze as many books as possible out of the series. While I can see their point in terms of progress in the Charis-Temple war, I think it's simple that Weber is trying to tell the story of the whole planet, rather than just his initial main characters.

In some series (his own Honor Harrington Books, and things like Ring of Fire).. those side plots get shunted into their own b
Mark Horejsi
I've been reading David Weber's Safehold series for at least half a decade now. I'm a big fan of David Weber, I've also enjoyed his Mutineer's Moon and Honor Harrington books, but Safehold is the series that I think I've enjoyed the most. Well, I picked up How Firm a Foundation a few weeks ago, in celebration of having finished some editing, and read it over about six days. This is a hefty book and that should tell you how much I enjoyed it.

If you haven't read any of the Safehold series, don't s
Brett Thomasson
Oct 16, 2015 Brett Thomasson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
David Weber's "Safehold" series has had ups and downs since he began it in 2007. The initial Off Armageddon Reef was well-paced and set the stage for this story: A remnant of humanity hides away from a genocidal alien race, secluded on a secret planet and both protected and oppressed by a religious order -- The Church of God Awaiting -- that proscribes technology the aliens might detect. Some of the original colonists hid an android scheduled to awaken later and try to restore technology and fre ...more
Mike Franklin
Thankfully, I found this to be massively better than the previous book in the series, A Mighty Fortress. AMF had almost no action in it at all. There were a couple of major battles and a few other minor action scenes but the vast majority of the book took place in conversations across desks, over meals, in meeting rooms, etc. Another dud like that and I’d probably have dropped the series. Weber does have a tendency to write this way – it can be seen in all of the later Honor Harrington books – a ...more
Sep 17, 2015 D.w. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
This book is still part of the series that does not know how to get to the end. A series that wastes too many words on all the meetings it feels compelled to tell you about, with the terrible use of phonetic names.

There are some moments that work. The story of our young Ensign and then Lieutenant works, but these are vignettes within the entire book. It is as if someone had to tell you all about the Second World War, and instead of trying to tell you in one sitting, they broke down the years, a
Steven Cole
Sep 01, 2013 Steven Cole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Weber's Space Opera; also sea battle lovers
How Firm a Foundation is the fifth in Weber’s “Safehold” series of novels, and they really don’t seem to be getting tired at all. I loved this one. From the moment I picked it up, I felt like I was back in a world I thoroughly enjoy, ever eager to get to the next page.

The pace is somehow both fast and slow simultaneously. While I’m hard pressed to say things in the world have advanced much from the beginning to the end, at the same time the prose never dragged, and I never felt I was slogging th
Steven Lee
Sep 05, 2016 Steven Lee rated it really liked it
The fifth novel in the Safehold series introduces something new, or at least develops a theme that has been present in previous books, and that is religious violence. In our own history the struggles between religions, or perhaps worse, within religions has resulted in incredible violence and suffering. The Charisian heresy is triggering violent reactions. Captured sailors and marines are tortured as heretics by the Temple's thugs and Charisian nationals are subjected to abuse and persecution on ...more
Sep 20, 2011 Gigiabob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I place HFAF in the same category as "By Schism Rent Asunder" - pieces move about the table, jockeying for position and events are set in motion that require more segments to resolve. This is definitely a middle book in another story arc.

The excitement of Charisian naval victories and technical supremacy at sea is temporized by the Church moving to a strategy of terrorism, subversion and suicide bombers - all while promulgating oppression as it visit's the "Question" and Schulerite Torture on an
Emily Karn
Oct 22, 2014 Emily Karn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SciFi/Military Fans
The island-based Charisian Empire has been fighting to survive since declaring its independence from the Church of God Awaiting. But most of its subjects don't know how much more they're fighting for.

For five years, Charis has withstood all that could be thrown at it by the corrupt, planet-girdling Church led by the Group of Four. at sea, Charis has scored several spectacular victories, but to remain independent , she must defeat the Church on her own ground. Yet how does Charis invade the mainl
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Military Science ...: Safehold Series David Weber 5 17 Apr 03, 2012 05:50AM  
  • Citadel (Troy Rising, #2)
  • Daring (Kris Longknife, #9)
  • Maelstrom (Destroyermen, #3)
  • 1636: The Saxon Uprising (Assiti Shards, #12)
  • Some Golden Harbor (Lt. Leary, #5)
  • Victorious (The Lost Fleet, #6)
David Mark Weber is an American science fiction and fantasy author. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1952.

Many of his stories have military, particularly naval, themes, and fit into the military science fiction genre. He frequently places female leading characters in what have been traditionally male roles.

One of his most popular and enduring characters is Honor Harrington whose alliterated name
More about David Weber...

Other Books in the Series

Safehold (8 books)
  • Off Armageddon Reef (Safehold, #1)
  • By Schism Rent Asunder (Safehold, #2)
  • By Heresies Distressed (Safehold, #3)
  • A Mighty Fortress (Safehold, #4)
  • Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold, #6)
  • Like a Mighty Army (Safehold, #7)
  • Hell's Foundations Quiver (Safehold, #8)

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