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Off Armageddon Reef (Safehold) [Kindle Edition]

David Weber
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $8.99
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Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

Humanity pushed its way to the stars - and encountered the Gbaba, a ruthless alien race that nearly wiped us out.
Earth and her colonies are now smoldering ruins, and the few survivors have fled to distant, Earth-like Safehold, to try to rebuild.  But the Gbaba can detect the emissions of an industrial civilization, so the human rulers of Safehold have taken extraordinary measures: with mind control and hidden high technology, they've built a religion in which every Safeholdian believes, a religion designed to keep Safehold society medieval forever.
800 years pass. In a hidden chamber on Safehold, an android from the far human past awakens. This "rebirth" was set in motion centuries before, by a faction that opposed shackling humanity with a concocted religion. Via automated recordings, "Nimue" - or, rather, the android with the memories of Lieutenant Commander Nimue Alban - is told her fate: she will emerge into Safeholdian society, suitably disguised, and begin the process of provoking the technological progress which the Church of God Awaiting has worked for centuries to prevent. 
Nothing about this will be easy. To better deal with a medieval society, "Nimue" takes a new gender and a new name, "Merlin."  His formidable powers and  access to caches of hidden high technology will need to be carefully concealed.  And he'll need to find a base of operations, a Safeholdian country that's just a little more freewheeling, a little less orthodox, a little more open to the new.
And thus Merlin comes to Charis, a mid-sized kingdom with a talent for naval warfare. He plans to make the acquaintance of King Haarahld and Crown Prince Cayleb, and maybe, just maybe, kick off a new era of invention.  Which is bound to draw the attention of the Church…and, inevitably, lead to war.
It's going to be a long, long process.  And it's going to be the can't-miss SF epic of the decade.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Weber's latest opus is a complex tale of action and intrigue set early in the 25th century, hundreds of years after the near total annihilation of humanity by the Gbaba, an alien race hell-bent on eradicating humans from the universe. After decades of war and facing certain defeat, the last remnants of the human race escape and settle on a distant planet, appropriately named Safehold. To ensure they remain undetected by their enemies, the leaders of the survivors ban technology, and genetically adjust the populace to remain in a perpetual pre-industrial state. However, 800 years later, an android of the old world awakens, charged with the task of guiding humanity back onto the path of science, technology and, eventually, the stars. Wyman rises nicely to the near Herculean challenge of performing this 30-hour epic. His clear, expressive reading never falters while he skillfully navigates his way through a labyrinth of plot twists and multiple characters. Whether describing high-tech space battles or the covert activities of courtiers and spies, Wyman brings Weber's intricate world of Safehold to life.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Earth has been destroyed by an alien invasion, and survivors are clinging to a precarious and primitive existence on a planet they have named Safehold. But they are divided into two major factions: a theocratic church opposed to all technological progress, and a secular class of aristocrats and merchants who support not only technology but expanding the habitable area of Safehold. There are factions and internal conflicts on both sides, and each has infiltrated the other. A good many of the book's main players are seafarers and naval officers, and they sail Safehold's seas in ships that Horatio Hornblower might find familiar. They are drawn as well as one expects of Weber, although they are so numerous that, despite the appended cast list, readers may feel mnemonically challenged. Staunch Weber fans may be disappointed by the lack of any Safehold life-form as irresistibly charming as the treecats of the Honorverse (the world of his space-faring heroine Honor Harrington). Safehold's abundant pelagic life is mostly predatory and sometimes outright deadly, and its land dwellers are only slightly cuddlier. Altogether, there is enough conflict to allow a natural storyteller like Weber to make a large, splendid novel that opens another saga. The saga being Weber's form of choice and high achievement, hopes for the rest of it are definitely elevated. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 1441 KB
  • Print Length: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (January 2, 2008)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000Q67KJ2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,705 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
79 of 87 people found the following review helpful
By M. Keck
"Off Armageddon Reef" was the first David Weber-penned novel I've read, so I like to think that this can be a useful review for other readers who are also new to Weber. Time will tell, I guess. With no further ado:


1. The introduction to the new series rocked. I thoroughly enjoyed the setup involving the Terran Federation and the Gbaba Empire. And, while I enjoyed it, it was also sad because, over the span of three to four decades, the reader bore witness to humanity's gradual destruction at the hands of the ever-advancing Gbaba, despite our having taken the war to some of their worlds for a period of time.

2. The introduction of Safehold and how the administrators of humanity's last colony set up a system that ensured it would become stagnant, technology-wise, and, even worse, worship those same administrators as archangels and angels. As a person who loves learning new things and seeing society advance forward in general, it was for me to swallow seeing millions of people intentionally held down in the Dark Ages. Yet, at the same time, it was for their own good. To rise again too quickly would likely bring the Gbaba down on humanity's last hope, even if the colony was 10,000 light years beyond the former star systems of the destroyed Terran Federation. Heh. They should have split the difference -- keep humanity's remnant ignorant for say, 500 years, then let them begin learning again, about not only their lost past, but new things as well.

3. I became attached to a number of the characters, but in particular, Crown Prince Cayleb and King Haarhald, both of Charis. It's always a good thing when an author can make a reader care for at least some of the characters.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Make sure you REALLY like military history February 8, 2007
Generally, I have been enjoying this latest by Weber, it draws on fewer cliches then some of his other novels, and the plot moves quickly, even if only to set up the sequel. Since 600+ pages is serious reading, however, here are the major strengths and weaknesses you may want to consider:

The strengths: An extremely original premise sets up an interesting world for Weber's typical story of technological and military progress in the face of forces designed to slow or stop it. Additionally, the story is quite engaging and generally well-written, despite the fact that this is clearly the beginning of a very long series and that the plot advances quite slowly (and with few surprises) relative to the length of the book. And, if you like history, especially military history, you will very much appreciate Weber's incredibly deep knowledge of the way that gunpowder was milled or cannons fixed to their carriages, and how that affected the ability of armies and countries to do battle or act as centers of commerce.

The weaknesses: Weber uses many of the standard tired narrative elements of both science fiction and military technothrillers in this book. For example, there are many long, and sometimes suprisingly complicated, technical descriptions that are presented as the musing or lectures of various characters ("Capt. Thundermountain thought of the advantages of using two rollers to mill grain. By reducing heat that caused grainocentisis, this would change the way flour production worked forever!" - except for 20 pages at a time, and that doesn't even count the long passages aboard ship). There are also some occasionally repetitive or annoying word choices, such as "thunderous thunder," and the fact that everyone is always "quirking" their eyebrows or lips.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new, but well put together January 9, 2007
This book has a lot in common with Weber's Children of Empire: Both feature high-technology protagonists marooned on a more-or-less medieval planet where the only remaining high technology is treated as divine and used to prop up a monolithic organized church, which inhibits further technological progress theologically and culturally. Amidst this, both books involve the protagonist(s) inserting themselves into the most philosophically progressive country around, with fairly predictable results.

That said, Weber remains an interesting writer with a strong sense of imagery. The characters tend to group pretty easily into omni-competant moral paragons versus backstabbing morons, but frankly, the book is just so much fun to read that it doesn't matter. If you like Weber's style, naval combat with a twist, or plots of this general template, this is a book worth reading. Otherwise, it may leave you fairly cold.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Oskahr Mhulvayn
Zhaspahr Maysahn
Tahdayo Mahntayl

These are just a few examples of the characters populating David Weber's latest creation. Imagine trying to keep track of a few dozens or so of such characters within his novel, sometimes being referred to by their first names, sometimes by their last names and then sometimes being addressed by their titles and I quickly found myself overwhelmed just trying to keep track of who was who within the story! I would readily admit to being a great fan of David Weber's line of space operas but even I have to confess that such tongue-twister of names created literal 'speed bumps' toward my reading enjoyment!

Granted that this is a science fiction piece but, unlike some of his other series of galactic wars spanning numerous star systems complete with alien races, or of the six-limbed Mardukans that populated his very enjoyable Prince Roger series, most of the characters in this novel are descendants of earth. Lets stick with some reader-friendly names here, just so we could navigate, keep track of and enjoy this very Machiavellian novel involving future church and states, of political intrigues and military lessons.

If Mr. Weber could readily retain conventional titles and ranks like vicars, bishops, dukes and kings, why not make the rest just a little more reader-friendly, particularly, American readers, which I believe would be his targeted audiences. I would like to think that Mr. Weber's novels are just as popular around the world, enjoyed by readers of different cultures and maybe in just as many different languages.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars You have to read this one!
I couldn't put this one down. What an original idea. Be sure

to use the references provided for the cast of characters as the list is long.
Published 7 days ago by Bob
5.0 out of 5 stars really good
it is as if it is alternate history - an android giving rise to the protestant reformation, the renaissance, etc
Published 9 days ago by Michael Mayer
4.0 out of 5 stars Webber creates a unique Safeworld after the destruction of Earth but...
I agree with readers of Webber's subsequent novels that it takes a really dedicated reader to mull through the rehashing of the details that he goes into which just clouds the... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars Safehold #1
A interesting and different story. Well developed and likeable main characters as well as a few overtly evil ones as well. Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Carver
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Series
Very entertaining books; a combination of Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and The Borgias, with a little bit of Outlander thrown in. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dr Daniel L Nation
4.0 out of 5 stars Off Armageddon Reef. Popists! Evil Popists everywhere!
This book, and the series so far, is a lot of mindless fun. Really mindless. And fun, too. Choke-full of stupid spellings and facepalm plot-holes, it has managed to keep me amused... Read more
Published 1 month ago by sid1gen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing
The safehold series by the author is one of my favorites. Sort of a cross between "A connecticut yankee in King Arthur's court" and a history of the UK. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ekaterina Puffini
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
First of the series and a great read. Actually the second time I have read it and it is still hard to put down.
Published 2 months ago by John T. Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
I could not put this book down! This book uniquely combines science fiction and swashbuckling edge of your seat excitement. I am excited to read the sequels!
Published 2 months ago by tbkimbrel
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful peek into the past via the future
I am a David weber fan. This book doesn't disappoint. He builds believable good and bad guys. Here he takes us to a time in the far future where the human race has regressed to... Read more
Published 3 months ago by AOL Jack
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More About the Author

David Mark Weber is an American science fiction and fantasy author. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1952. Weber and his wife Sharon live in Greenville, South Carolina with their three children and "a passel of dogs".

Previously the owner of a small advertising and public relations agency, Weber now writes science fiction full time.

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not particularly original
I like this genre and I think that Weber could be a good writer at times, but he is, as many reviewers pointed on various sites, extremely long winded and fascinated by political machinations in a way in which a historian or political scientist should be, not a writer. I wonder if in your opinion... Read more
Sep 26, 2008 by SAM |  See all 3 posts
No E-book, why bother?
Actually...there is. Go to and you can download an eBook of Off Armageddon Reef. That being said, I'm not going to be buying it. Because Tor has screwed up eBooks a SECOND time. Yes, Tor has come back to Webscriptions! Unfortunately, they've managed to tick off all the... Read more
Jan 21, 2007 by William B. Davis Jr. |  See all 9 posts
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