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(Freehold #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  4,021 ratings  ·  184 reviews
Sergeant Kendra Pacelli is innocent, but that doesn't matter to the repressive government pursuing her. Mistakes might be made, but they are never acknowledged, especially when billions of embezzled dollars earned from illegal weapons sales are at stake. But where does one run when all Earth and the planets are under the aegis of one government?
Paperback, 688 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Baen (first published December 30th 2003)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,021 ratings  ·  184 reviews

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As others have said: this book was deeply cliched, lazily written, and inexpertly welded to a political manifesto; at best, it's "bubblegum" sci-fi. I read it for the explosions and space battles, and even then it disappointed several times.

For one thing, there aren't any space battles till well into the second half of the novel. The first half is entirely consumed with the main character (a tall, leggy, gorgeous blonde who doesn't know she's attractive) escaping from Earth; most of this, howeve
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, military

I am at heart a libertarian, but in all fairness this book is sorta like libertarian porn. Because libertarian societies have difficulties coexisting with non-libertarian societies (we have a lot of people in current society who take and don't give, and any change from that will not be peaceful) Michael simplifies things and allows a libertarian society to come about with the introduction of star travel.

Basically a bunch of like minded libertarians founded Freehold and let it grow into the so
Jacob Proffitt
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: steamy, action, sci-fi
I've debated for hours how to approach this review, including simply not writing one. I'm still not certain, so I'm going to let it flow and we'll see where we end up. The only thing I know at this point is that I'm going to tag sections by rough topic and try to make it so you can skip if you aren't interested in that aspect of the book.

So it looks like I'm addressing politics first. Skip down to the book analysis if you don't care.

This book isn't as political as people think, but it is politic
Nick Brett
May 28, 2012 rated it did not like it
So, let us start with the cover. "Earth's most wanted woman" is the splash while the picture is of a female running from burning buildings and being strafed by a couple of jets. Pretty exciting huh? Well, somebody needs to be done under the Trades Description Act.

We start off on Earth, a rather fascist future vision. An female NCO is framed as part of a corruption conspiracy and, fearful of a flawed and oppressive justice system, goes on the run. She ends up in the embassy of Freehold of Grainne
Dec 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
In a repressive intergalactic future, a woman in the military is framed for a crime she didn't commit,and flees to wilds.

The government invades,and the woman finds herself fighting for freedom.

Not bad, with a lot of libertarian material.
Aron Bosco Caesar
Nov 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
Freehold is really a fantasy book with some science fiction elements. I don't mean fantasy as in "here are elves and wizards," but as in "these are the things that Michael Z. Williamson likes to imagine to be true about the world."

The idea of the United Nations being a tyrannical global powerhouse? Pure paranoid fantasy. We're talking about an entity whose main power is sending strongly worded letters. The idea that guns are so much of an equalizer that their presence is all it takes to make ev
Ron Davis
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-political
Freehold is one of my favorite books of all time and had a strong impact on my decision to be more a libertarian.

It is the story of Kendra Pacelli who is wrongly accused of a crime on Earth and is forced to immigrate to the Libertarian utopia of Freehold.

There are basically two parts to the book. The first part is classic mellui story. The point of the story is not so much character growth and change, but to move around the setting and show the reader what it is like. This is the type of story
Jeffrey Grant
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
I like military sci-fi and I've come to terms with the fact that most of the prolific authors in the genre are libertarians. However I'm not really entertained by having descriptions of the philosophy take up 2/3 of the book.
The character development is passable, though all of them are pure military scifi cliches: the main character is the naive woman who is wronged by incompetent beauracracy, shows reluctance to military service, then ends up being exemplary. Around her there's the seasoned ve
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Not since I first read “On Basilisk Station” have I been quite so captured by a Military SciFi novel. Williamson’s first Science Fiction book is in many ways controversial in it’s views (for the record, the author does claim they are not really “his” views in his comments on and will no doubt disturb some with its sexual content. Some part will probably shock you at one point or another, but it remains a great adventure story.

Kendra Pacelli is in the UN Military. Earth and a few colo
Nicki Fellenzer
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Kendra Pacelli escapes from a human hell -- the kind of Earth most dread, but know deep inside that we could become if we continue on our present course. Human beings are controlled by government, by force, tracked, licensed and regulated. The United Nations, corrupt and power-hungry, governs earth with a socialist iron fist. Framed for a crime she didn't commit, Kendra escapes to the Freehold of Grainne - a society of a truly free people that refuses to become part of the UN's domination plans. ...more
Jun 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
This is one of the worst things I have ever read. And it's not just the stupidity of pretending that people would run around naked AND be taller in a hot high gravity environment.
The book has just too much stupid shit going on that makes me angry.
Aug 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
It is clear why so many reviewers compare Williamson to Heinlein: the parallels are many. Happy libertarian society? Check. Oppressive authoritarian government in conflict with said society? Check. Long passages regarding military training, war, and etc.? Check. Plenty of casual nudity and even more casual sex? Check. "Freehold" contained in the title? Check.
Actually, despite the title, "Freehold" inherits far more strongly from
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Starship Troopers than Farnham's
Jan 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This book definitely would not be for anyone. It has many things that detracted from my enjoyment but I really did like the characters enough to keep going to the end.

Some of the things that I had issues with are the overt smugness of the 'free society' dictum. I'm not against it or for it but here it was overwhelmingly placed as a perfect model of a society. Also, the emphasis on sex was annoying - I don't care who loves who or why or even with whom or how much they are getting paid. In this ki
Scott Hare
May 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Williamson himself said (not verbatim) that he thought this was one of his most poorly written novels. After reading most of his catalogue, however, I find it to be second only to his next book "Better to Beg Forgiveness". Yes, the writing is clunky at times but the action is well paced and the so called "gratuitous" sex pales in comparison to some of the other military scifi novels I have read.
If you are of a libertarian leaning mind I think you will thoroughly enjoy this book as I did. It pai
May 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book seems to be written with the intent of getting the reader to see the value of a libertarian viewpoint. It is also preachy and overly descriptive about every detail.
Readers are asked to forget about logic: People on the planet are selfless enough to need next to no government, which includes education, infrastructure, healthcare, it is so safe that doors stay unlocked - yet everyone is armed, with one reason being rape, the other reason being dangerous animals straying into the city pr
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This really is one of my favourite books of all time. I have read and reread it several times and get something new out of it. If you have ever wondered what a true free-market society with little government influence could be like and what a very "democratic" U.N. style society could be like; this is the book for you. Trust me that whether you agree with Williamson or not, you will love the book.
Sep 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Kendra emigrates from a restrictive, politically correct society to a very libertarian one. The 1st half of the book is devoted to expounding these libertarian ideals. The 2nd part of the book is of the war between the two societies and Kendra's part in it.

I enjoyed the book, but not enough to keep it and read it again.
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good book. Ironic how some of the plots are ones that we deal with today.
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
very good read, easy to follow the story and great characters
Jess Saxton
I got the ebook free from the Baen free library, which offers hundreds of books to download. Anyway, this book wasn't quite what I was expecting based off of the description. It bills itself almost as a thriller with a woman who works in the logistics department of the United Nations Armed Forces on Earth being wrongfully accused of moving goods illegally. Being advised of this by a friend who works as an MP and being told in no uncertain terms that she would be arrested, she flees from the base ...more
Erin Penn
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First quarter of book is about Kendra leaving her home planet and integrating into Freehold society. We learn about it from her perspective. Mr. Williamson presents a new culture similar to Mr. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, but brought into the new millennium and made his own. It idealizes extreme individualism, which one would expect from a recent colony; weak, stupid and average need not apply to this high gravity planet. (I had a lot more to say about whether I think this society is viable lo ...more
Kamas Kirian
Awesome story. More like 4.5 stars. I really enjoyed this book. Kendra Pacelli was well fleshed out. The supporting cast was done pretty well if not all that in depth. The action flowed fast and furious at times, at others slower but still intriguing.

Told in essentially four phases of unequal length. The first was the fish-out-of-water where we are introduced to the main character and her major supporting cast as she attempts to adjust to her new environment. The second was her military career,
Apr 06, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a fairly ridiculous, enjoyable bubblegum military science fiction. Williamson is a perfect serviceable writer, and develops strong characters. The first half of the book is all getting to know the main players, and a pretty ridiculous, if not stereotypical, three person romantic relationship. Williamson does a good job making his characters likeable, and interesting. But the romantic relationships are not handled without much nuance, it's all titillation and heavy breathing. There is a m ...more
The book earns about a 3.5 from me but I can't feel justified giving it a 4, so be it. I read it for free on Amazon, which means I had no need to justify the cost, and thus no buyer's remorse or trying to reassure myself that it was a good purchase. All that was lost was time, and at 700 pages, it was a bit of an undertaking.

The length is justified since the book crams three whole arcs into its overall plot, any two of which alone would probably justify the novel on its own.

The first third/half
D. Jason
I believe this is Williamson's first novel. And if so, wow.

The plot structure is very Heinleinian --- which is to say, it (mostly) does not seem to be structured at all beyond "one damned thing after another", and the type of story being told changes and shifts more than once during the story. It does not seem structured, but it is. The first half or so of the narrative is a picaresque, showing the reader the society that Williamson has created in Freehold. Then it becomes something altogether d
Jul 11, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pat Cummings
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I happened to read Freehold just after re-reading L. Neil Smith's Pallas, and I thought, here is what would happen in a whole free society versus all of socialist Earth situation. The Freehold military also reminded me of what I had read of Israel's military, and if you think about it, that is a microcosm of what the novel Freehold presents: hostile neighbors with military might who deny your home its right to chose a life and society based on freedom.

Each time I re-read Freehold, I see more dim
Dawn Paris
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great read, I really enjoyed this book. It seemed to remind me a bit of ENDER'S GAME and a bit of Heinlein's writings as well - military training & scenarios in a future world, exceptional people and a Libertarian leaning philosophy.

The great thing about this book is that it creates a world that challenges the personal and political assumptions we've been raised with, and replaces it with an alternate system. Being presented with this new system provokes thought, as well as creates an interestin
Oh my goodness -- I loved this book! So much going on, and a war to end the book. I found the preponderance of sex a little much for my taste, although it was a part of the plot so I suppose it belonged there. The first half or so of the book felt like a long, thorough tour of a new and interesting place, and I wondered what was going to happen in the book other than being a guidebook to an imaginary place. Then the second half hit with a rush of military activity -- including a war -- and there ...more
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Freehold (10 books)
  • The Weapon
  • Better to Beg Forgiveness ( Freehold: Ripple Creek, #1, Freehold, #3)
  • Contact with Chaos (Freehold: Grainne War, #3, Freehold, #4)
  • Do Unto Others
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