Another doorstopper in a doorstopper series, the seventh of Weber’s popular slow-burn Safehold yarns (Midst Toil and Tribulation, 2012, etc.).
The premise is that a powerful and xenophobic alien race, the Gbaba, attacked and destroyed Earth. The survivors fled to planet Safehold, where a faction of religious fanatics, the Church of God Awaiting, seized power and, in the name of keeping humanity hidden, buried all evidence of advanced technology and introduced a repressive medieval regime, complete with inquisition to deal with dissenters. Nearly 900 years later—and from this entry, you won’t learn how—a cybernetic avatar, Merlin Athrawes, appeared and stealthily began to introduce advanced technology in recognition that only a global war would suffice to overthrow the absolute grip of the church. Assisted by Merlin and other avatars, virtual personalities and an artificial intelligence, the island empire of Charis has declared its independence from the church and is forging ahead with steam-powered ships and equipment, modern-style field guns and efficient assault rifles, though as yet only a handful of the rebellion’s top leaders know Merlin’s secret. Other lands around the globe have allied with Charis, and the fighting has been bloody, debilitating and vengeful. Yet the church’s vast armies and resources are far from defeated and, in their own limited way, are capable of changing and adapting to meet the threat. Fans know the formula: plenty of rousing battle scenes—Weber’s specialty—and characters that gradually, over many pages, come into focus, along with a seemingly endless torrent of detail, some rich and illuminating but more commonly scarcely relevant to the plot or to those readers who’d rather just get to the combat.
If you’re not already addicted to this series, don’t start here.