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How Firm a Foundation

(Safehold #5)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  5,781 ratings  ·  199 reviews
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. And because they do, they know the penalty if they lose will be far worse than th ...more
Hardcover, 607 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Tor Books
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 ·  5,781 ratings  ·  199 reviews

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Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 20, 2011 rated it liked it
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....
Larry Jeram-Croft
Nov 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, 2020
Superb, the whole series is.
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 rated it really liked it
Shelves: keepers, sf-f-goodies
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
Aug 31, 2011 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 per
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A pretty typical David Weber book. Slightly larger-than-life good guys, who come out ahead against near impossible odds; incredibly detailed battle scenes; some bad guys with a conscience, one bad guy who's mustache twirling evil... you know the drill. I do feel obligated to point out that Weber was much less info-dumpy than normal with this one, even if my eyes were glazing over at all the five-second characters. Thankfully, the book includes a glossary of characters.

Nonetheless, fun read. Desp
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really liked the way the story advanced in this volume, with a combination of some nice action moving the story forward and some nice examination of how societal changes impact society, all within a SciFi context.
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book thankfully left out much of the overlapping analysis that stripped away the suspense in the previous book. While I could see most of it coming, the relationships, action, and display of justice were satisfying.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this book is a worthy addition to awesome series

This book was just another wild rollercoaster ride in what has been a wide series yet and it is only just starting to really heat up I look forward to the next wild ride in the series
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 09, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Mar 14, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Neil Carstairs
Jan 08, 2017 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
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing

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
Brian Durfee
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
much improved on books 3&4. More action, less talking about stuff.
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 21, 2020 added it
This book is the fifth in the Safehold series by Weber, and it continues in the grand tradition. When I picked up the first book in this series, I had no idea I was in for a saga of this length. It will probably rival his Honor Harrington stuff when it reaches its conclusion...if ever.

Emperor Caleb and Sharleyan continue to oppose the infamous leaders of the Church of God Awakening, based in the city of Zion, who have declared their countries and their faith apostasy and declared a jihad against
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Oblique to avoid spoilers:

I suspected, based on certain character and word choices, there there would come a time where the world-building would unambiguously lose significant internal logic. (Ex. Language retained the word “catamite”, but not the word “multi-task”. The hell kind of sense does that make, given the initial premise of the novels?) I also suspected that some very obvious plot solutions would be missed, though I’m not sure if it’s authorly convenience, oversight, or bias, known or u
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
First thoughts:
So.. I came back to the series. Not entirely because I wanted to either. -Someone- decided to get me a copy of the next book, so I was pretty much honour bound to read it ;)

In any case.. the stories pacing is still spotty. Webber is good at politics, but it comes off as arrogant and mightier than thou for the underdogs to be just so.. urg. Anyway. He is shifting the story a little, the good guys didnt demonstrably win outright this time around and he did pay off on some of the thr
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
These are my kind of book, tightly written, fast moving plots with frequent shifts in the action. They are also all around 285,000 words or around 700 to 800 pages! Weber's created world is interesting, and just like in his spectacularly engrossing Honorverse series, he makes the characters real to you. You begin to expect things or find things satisfying because of how they begin to become real people you'd want to know, or truly hate! There is FAR too much going on in each of these books for m ...more
Jan 25, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Its a good book but it feels like a lot of the stories are more vignettes that have been put into one book than a complete flowing story. I like it and its a good entry into the series, continues the stories and plots, but it just doesn't feel like it flows properly (if that makes sense?)

There are some shocking moments and a couple of surprises that I didn't see coming and Weber continues to stoke that hate and the anger at the Group of Four, or Clyntahn and his inquisition really. Me
Mar 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
I like Mark Weber’s ‘Safehold’ series. Basically, it’s the Protestant Reformation in space, told with engaging characters and well-crafted plot. There are so many of these books, however, and they’re each so long, that they give the reader enough exposure to Weber’s writing style to notice his faults.

His characters tend to speak in the same cadences. As a function of the story, they aren’t interchangeable. As a function of the way they express themselves, they are. He tends to describe every con
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Let me start off by saying I really enjoy David Weber's stories, and this is no exception. The setting is fascinating, the conflict feels real, and the story line is exciting.

This fifth book specifically feels like the consequences of the holy war are starting to catch up to everybody, except the main bad guy. The author does a good job of showing how, in a religious war, there are good and bad people on both sides, and how hard it is to combat your long-held beliefs.

That being said, I'm not sur
Jordan Grossman
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These books are not for everyone. The first 70 pages were about a ship captain trying to save his ship and crew from a storm. It did almost nothing for the storyline other than develop a couple characters for later in the book. The depth which Weber must have researched how to sail a wooden ship is incredible. How many people have even a rudimentary understanding of the Age of Sail? I obviously found it fascinating and I would expect anyone who has made it to book 5 of this series would agree wi ...more
Jules Bertaut
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: future
This book is kinda more of the same in the series. There were an adequate number of battles and not too many long speeches.

Honestly, if you're this far into the series you know you either like it or you don't, and it you like it, this is more of that and if you don't, ... this is still more of that.
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Military Science ...: Safehold Series David Weber 5 17 Apr 03, 2012 05:50AM  

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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

Other books in the series

Safehold (10 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)
  • At the Sign of Triumph (Safehold #9)
  • Through Fiery Trials (Safehold, #10)

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