By Heresies Distressed
By David Weber; Read by Jason Culp
Approx. 25 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
ISBN: 9781427206794 (CD)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Empires / Religion / War /
The Empire of Charis has been founded out of the marriage between King Cayleb of Charis and Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm, and further expanded by the annexation of Charis’ enemy Emerald. Now Cayleb and Merlin go on the offensive. Sharleyan stays behind to construct the new government out of the former Kingdoms, while Cayleb leads their Navy and tens of thousands of Charisian Marines against the League of Corisande and Prince Hektor. Hektor was the willing puppet of the Church of God Awaiting when he led an armada from several of Safehold’s nations against Charis. That armada was defeated with the aid of the technologies introduced by Merlin, but not before Cayleb’s father, King Haarahld, was killed.
Retribution is also dealt against the Kingdom of Delferahk, greatly offending the Church in the process when the priests responsible for the massacre are called to account. Merlin’s SNARCs, autonomous flying, invisible spy cameras, continue to provide a massive tactical advantage and help to solidify Cayleb’s reputation as a master tactician especially as the battle moves onto land. Some of the advances hinted at in the previous books are seen in action and their effects, amounting to almost two centuries of advancement in our history, are somewhat predictable. Unfortunately, the SNARCs can’t be everywhere, and Merlin and his A.I., Owl, can’t review everything that they record. The Church loyalists manage to slip past Merlin’s security, and target Empress Sharleyan in an attempt to break the new Empire.
Being the third book in the series, Weber brings the anticipated final conflict with Mother Church several steps closer. There is less focus on the new technologies being introduced in this book than in those that proceed it. The tactics and politics assume much more the focus. The land battles are clearly drawn, and the narrator, Jason Culp, keeps the back and forth between the combatants clear.
There are a noticeable number of lengthy monologues, in some cases in the middle of what was a normal conversation. They could have been more concise, however Jason delivers them well. He brings all of the many characters to life with ease, from the lowest soldier in the middle of a battle to the nobility and the priesthood.
Merlin is a magical character to the inhabitants of Safehold, but of Arthur C. Clarke’s variety: sufficiently advanced technology. Although that technology plays an important part in the events, it doesn’t really intrude. Merlin’s visions are provided by his SNARCs and the explanation of, what amounts to a mobile phone, in one scene is as intrusive as it gets. Weber’s Safehold series should appeal to fans of alternate history as well as fantasy and Science Fiction.
Posted by Paul [W] Campbell