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159 Reviews
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79 of 87 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Please, no more torture
I'm a Weber fan. I've read almost everything he's written--several times. I liked this book. In fact, I've had very little sleep since I started it day before yesterday. As soon as I finish this review, I'm going to collapse into bed and try to catch up on my shuteye. I loved the first and second books in the series. I almost gave up reading it with the third book...
Published on September 15, 2011 by ShySusan

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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Much talking, little progress on an otherwise great story
Although I rather enjoy the premise of this series, the lack of progress in this volume is disappointing. A book this large and perhaps a year or so is covered? At this rate perhaps our grandchildren will get to see how the story turns out! While I appreciate the author's talent for detail and nuance I'd like to see the storyline advance at a pace a little faster than...
Published on September 28, 2011 by Captain Obvious


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79 of 87 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Please, no more torture, September 15, 2011
By 
ShySusan (Somewhere in Darkest Utah) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How Firm A Foundation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
I'm a Weber fan. I've read almost everything he's written--several times. I liked this book. In fact, I've had very little sleep since I started it day before yesterday. As soon as I finish this review, I'm going to collapse into bed and try to catch up on my shuteye. I loved the first and second books in the series. I almost gave up reading it with the third book. I just hate long scenes in the minds and counsels of the bad guys where nobody is doing anything except talking about their evil plans. I love action scenes which Weber does superbly. There just weren't enough of them in the third book. I truly think that a canny abridger could cut out half or two-thirds of that book and produce a far better product. The fourth book was somewhat better. And I thought this book returned to the quality of the first two books in the series. It had lots of action.

Someone complained in an earlier review about the lengthy sea battle and the lengthy storm at sea. I eat this stuff up. I've been a long time fan of the Horatio Hornblower series and Aubrey-Maturin series, and I think Weber is doing just as good a job with his naval scenes as the authors of those two series. Several people complained that he spent too much time with minor characters, but this is the way Weber works. He has huge casts of characters and as major characters are killed off, they are replaced by formerly minor characters. For instance in that long sea storm, we see the development of the Hector Armahk character. Yes, he has been a minor character in the past books. I don't think he's going to be minor in future books. Likewise, Irys Daikon has been a minor character in past books, but based on the events in this book, I think Weber has big plans for her. Someone else complained that nothing happened to advance the plot line. I disagree. I don't want to create any spoilers, but there was one very major problem that the Charisians knew they were facing from the very first book which they finally get a grip on in this book.

This book is intended for those readers who like really loooonnnngggg series. The Honor Harrington series is over 20 books now if I remember right. I don't expect this series to be any shorter. I just hope both Weber and I live to reach the end. Neither of is a spring chicken anymore. 8-)

Now to MY complaint and the reason why I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5. I hate graphic torture scenes. I don't mind bloody battle scenes, but torture hurts my mind. I have torture scenes still stuck in my head from books I read 35 years ago. I don't want any more of them, and in this book he provided several. I will mark those passages in my copy of the book and won't be reading them again when I reread the series. Please Mr. Weber. You've convinced me that Clyntahn is a monster. You don't need to give me any more proof. Leave the graphic details out of the future books, I beg you.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Much talking, little progress on an otherwise great story, September 28, 2011
By 
Captain Obvious (Poughkeepsie, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How Firm A Foundation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
Although I rather enjoy the premise of this series, the lack of progress in this volume is disappointing. A book this large and perhaps a year or so is covered? At this rate perhaps our grandchildren will get to see how the story turns out! While I appreciate the author's talent for detail and nuance I'd like to see the storyline advance at a pace a little faster than "glacial". Minor characters tend to often take center stage, while more interesting and relevant ones languish.

All in all, an enjoyable series that unfortunately encourages one to skim more often than I'm accustomed to. C'mon, Mr. Weber, let's get the story MOVING!
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Functional but lacking, October 1, 2011
This review is from: How Firm A Foundation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
Take a story you've written before, and done fairly well at; it was a single sub-section of a book with several separate disparate storylines. You want to elaborate on the story, and take it from being a smaller subset of a single book to being its own full-fledged novel. Great. Now take that story and stretch it into a series that will likely end up as 10+ books, using a combination of substantially longer time period, larger scale, and quite a bit of filler.

This was not a poorly written book; in fact, its quite well-written. The problems lie in how much 'filler' it contains. Instead of describing events, it foreshadows them; using just as much time to foreshadow them as to describe them, if not substantially more. This is book 5, quite likely a halfway point, or a one-third point, in a series Weber could have easily told in less than 5 books, and done just as well. I could easily imagine this series being vastly improved by taking the entire story including the conquest of the Temple which is likely several books to come, putting it in three books, then doing another 3-book trilogy about the development of a new spacebound terran race, and the Charisian space navy's war with the Gbaba.

However much I might despise the way the series drags on, I keep being drawn back to it, wanting to know just how things turn out in a given plot, only to be disappointed yet again.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good but not good enough..., January 9, 2012
This review is from: How Firm A Foundation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
I've been reading Mr. Weber's works for the better part of 20 years. I love most of his works and truly believe many of his stories are among the best science fiction ever written. The first two books of the Safehold series where great. The premise of the story might not be completely new but it had a fresh spin to it. The human race is almost extinct, having been hunted across the cosmos by the Gbaba(?)who are bent on eradicating any possible competition to their expansion as the only sentient beings in the Universe. A last ditch effort by humans to create a secret colony far across the universe and hopefully prevent the complete extinction of the human species. And how horribly wrong it all went. Great characters, battle sequences, and a storyline which created an interesting and believable world. Books three and four seemed overly long and bloated. The multiple subplots, storyline twists, and trivial character introductions make it difficult to keep up with the story and soon you stop trying. Great, another poor slob who is about to get his but handed to him by The Group of 4. i.e. Whyllem Smzth following the will of The Group of Four is given sanction to kill who ever stands against Mother Church, or poor hard working Zannkerhe Mylls is persecuted by the Inquisition for his heresy against Mother Church. The naming style of the characters to show the drift in the spoken language since the fall of old Terra is aggravating! The main characters, the ones who you paid $27.00 to read about are relegated into obscurity. Page after page, chapter after chapter of increasing expectations that something big and exciting is finally about to happen. Something, anything that will make the last 400 pages worthwhile. Then, finally the expected climax of the book which will cliffhang the story for the next installment....Sorry buddy, it's the end of the book... Nothing great has happened, nothing to make the last 400 pages worth the time spent reading them. Finally you're left with a vague since of disappointment as you close the book. The New/Next book is out next year, another $27.00 and you'll get to enjoy the next ground shaking installment in the exciting Safehold saga. Maybe the next 800 page book will restore your faith. Maybe (just maybe) "How Firm a Foundation" will be the next "best book ever written" by one of your favorite authors. Something that will recapture you interest in the Safehold world. $27.00 later you find book five is more of the same filler material, subplots, and minor character story lines rather than main character story lines. It's almost like a compilation of short stories reminiscent of the Bolo or Hammer's Slammers stories. "How Firm a Foundation" is an ok book that somehow fails to truly capture the essence of the author's intent or potential furtherance of the storyline. And yet once again your left with that vague since of disappointment as well as an empty wallet.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exposition is his name-o., October 24, 2011
By 
Henry Mowry (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
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David Weber is a great writer, and he does great science fiction. I really, really liked the Safehold series ... in the beginning.

With this book, action has given way to incredibly long expositions of what characters think, and what may or may not happen. Mr. Weber is an expert at this sort of writing ... but with this book, I think he ended on the wrong side of the line. The cast of characters is now over 20 pages in my kindle, and every one seemed to get their say in this book. I gave up trying to keep the minor characters straight.

Amazon, why isn't there an easy way to navigate to things like a TOC or a list of characters, which this author so helpfully provides for readers of a book of paper to turn to?

I went to the TOR website, and see that this is book # 5 of a planned 11 in this series. I'll keep reading, but I do SO hope that this book was sort of a middle of the series loss of focus. I found myself skipping paragraphs -- and that is something I almost never do with books that I read. This book, I eagerly anticipated ... only to be disappointed. 3 stars from me, and that is very surprising. Definitely the worst of the series so far, in my opinion.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less boring than the last, but still an indigestible lump, September 16, 2011
This review is from: How Firm A Foundation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
After the absolutely horrible experience in A Mighty Fortress, Weber has continued in his style of huge expository lump but at least the flow has improved from swamp to merely sluggish.

Like others have noted, the first 6% of the book was spent following a single ship through a single storm. It was an episode with absolutely ZERO plot value. We learned nothing new about any of the characters, and no consequences flowed from those 50-odd pages. It was simply Weber showing off his ability to cow editors into letting him write whatever he feels like.

Similar to the previous book, Weber spends far too much time on internal soliloquy spelling out every detail of personality, interactions, could-have-been, should-have-been, might-have-been, possibly-will-be, etc.... An author who can't get the reader to understand the characters without spelling it out should probably stop writing altogether.

On the plus side, at least we finally get some action and plot development. The Group of Four's counter-strategy is revealed to some extent. Some main characters die and yet other characters take center stage. There's even a battle or two to help get the adrenaline up.

Yet even those positives which improves the plot line flow are tainted by how blatantly obvious they are. Weber apparently got the feedback that he needs to explain why Merlin can't go out and sink entire enemy fleets while flashing all that high tech, but the explanation is clearly deficient. The plot line on Princess Irys is resolved in the most obvious way, so on and so forth.

The only reason I bothered giving this a 2nd star is because at least ~1/4th of the book had enough plot-relevant flow to keep me interested. That's a major improvement from the last book.

I'd strongly suggest people wait to buy this book until it's cheaper. Even the Kindle version of How Firm A Foundation is priced 80% higher than the previous book.

Wait. You're not missing much.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid continuation of the series, September 14, 2011
This review is from: How Firm A Foundation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
"How Firm a Foundation" continues Weber's series nicely, full of the political machinations and military details for which he is known. The characters are great; they interact well, with solid dialogue, and even manage to continue character growth - quite a feat for the fifth book in a series. There are enough of those bamf moments to satisfy, and this book brings together a lot of the threads that were present in previous novels, giving more shape to how the story will turn out (and that's all I'll say for fear of spoilers).

The book is typical Weber, and does get quite into the minutia and details of the events. Some readers (I among them) like this style, at least occasionally. Other readers are annoyed at the lack of significant resolution after a 600 page tome. If you've gotten this far in the series, odds are you'll like the book as much as the previous ones. If you're looking to pick the series up at this late point, it's not such a good idea; apart from lacking the background, it's assumed you're a die-hard reader by this point, and don't really need complete resolution. Weber's books aren't meant to be standalone novels, but lengthy, quasi-historical and most of all very complete accounts of a complex, realistic tale (realistic for sf/fantasy, at least). And in this quality, his books, HFaF included, do excel, demonstrating all of the painstaking work Weber puts into the entwined webs of plot, character, and side-event threads. Think of the level of detail you'd expect from a fictional, character driven approach to, say, WWI, and you'll be somewhere in the right ball park at least. HFaF covers about 1 year of the conflict. Is there resolution? No. But was I really expecting any? Also no, or at least no more than I would from reading a book about the progress of WWI in 1916.

I look forward to the sequel, and will probably make sure to read it too the day it comes out.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A small addition to the series, September 14, 2011
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This review is from: How Firm A Foundation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
In over 600 pages, How Firm a Foundation contains only small advancements in the ongoing Safehold Series. Any book, even those a part of a larger sweeping series, should have some sort of plot development and conclusion; How Firm a Foundation is filled mostly with minor characters, unimportant action, and a few seeds for the following books. You should only consider reading this novel if you are truly dedicated to the Safehold story in general - as a standalone science fiction/fantasy novel it will be a waste of your time.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Burn me twice, shame on me..., October 10, 2011
This review is from: How Firm A Foundation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
I'm sad to do it but I am giving up on David Weber and the Safehold series. Book 1 - how new an innovative - but it has been a steady and depressing slide since them. I do love complex worlds a la Frank Herbert or China Mieville, but I read sci-fi / fantasy for sci-fi / fantasy and not to read about minutia. Yes, put up the sails and take them down - but don't spend 2 pages talking me through every step. Yes, an interwoven narrative is great but there is a point when you have so many characters, I hardly care about them at all.

I thoroughly blame Robert Jordan and his Wheel of Time series for my lack of patience for authors who start strong and fade quickly. I'm just not willing to trudge through 11 more books about sub-plots, bit characters in whom I have no emotional investment and pages and pages of pointless descriptions that do nothing to advance the plot. It is sad that Mr Weber has fallen in to this black hole of mediocrity where the size and number of volumes in the series is more important than telling a quality story.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too little and it is getting too late, November 28, 2011
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This review is from: How Firm A Foundation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
The storyline of the Safehold series is great, but it advances at such a slow pace - wordy (excessively) descriptions of storms at sea, battles at sea - maybe some people like it, but it is really getting old by the 4th novel. And I am to the point where the twisted spelling of names can completely distract me from the enjoyment of the story. In fact, I disliked it to begin with but am approaching the point where I can't stand it. Hope Mr. Weber can resist the urge to use this particular quirk again.
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How Firm A Foundation (Safehold)
How Firm A Foundation (Safehold) by David Weber (Hardcover - September 13, 2011)
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