Weber (At All Costs, 2007, etc.) delivers the third installment in his ongoing Safehold saga.
In the first two books, the planet Safehold was colonized by the last remnants of humanity, fleeing an Earth destroyed by aliens. They forged a society dominated by religion, to prevent the building of new technology that might attract the alien threat. Dissenters, however, created a cybernetic being, Merlin, who awakened some 800 years later and helped the nonconforming kingdom of Charis develop technology and fight against the powerful Church of God Awaiting. In this volume, Charis and its allies battle Corisande, a Church-assisted princedom. Like its predecessors in the Safehold series, the novel paints a vast, stunningly complex political and military tapestry, with wonderful battle scenes that compensate for occasionally overlong stretches of dialogue. Weber’s portrayal of the Church and criticism of organized religion also continue to make these books interesting. That said, readers shouldn’t pick up this volume without first reading Off Armageddon Reef (2007) and By Schism Rent Asunder (2008); the glossary and list of characters bringing newbies up to speed spans 15 pages.
Initiates will be more than satisfied by this ambitious fantasy variant on the timeworn tale of a monolithic world institution challenged by reformers.