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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but straying from his editor.
Safehold has been a very intrieguing series, managing a hybrid of scifi and historical fiction that works quite well. The first few books were all excellently written, with the focus on the characters, the world, and their struggles, which is as it should be.

In this book, however, it feels like Mr. Weber (or his editor) has allowed a lot of exposition on the...
Published 19 months ago by evandy

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106 of 122 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating
I have read pretty much all of David Weber's novels. I enjoy his style of writting. However, I am getting very frustrated with the Safehold series. As a previous reviewer said, how will this series end? After roughly 900 years, the human race is trying to recover technology to fight a genocidal alien species. The series is up to book 6 and we have rediscovered the...
Published 19 months ago by Jax


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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but straying from his editor., September 20, 2012
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Safehold has been a very intrieguing series, managing a hybrid of scifi and historical fiction that works quite well. The first few books were all excellently written, with the focus on the characters, the world, and their struggles, which is as it should be.

In this book, however, it feels like Mr. Weber (or his editor) has allowed a lot of exposition on the ins and outs of specific military technologies that would be better served to be placed off in an appendix or three. As a result, the story often seems to bog down a little bit, and it feels like character development and interactions have been given short shrift. Don't get me wrong; a lot of these relationships between technology and tactics, strategy, and logistics are facinating in their own right, and certainly deserve to be addressed... but it would be nice to pare that explanation down from 2-3 pages to a paragraph or two, and a reference to more detail in an appendix.

This book also suffers from switching points of view from character to character a little too quickly; often several times within a chapter. While the focus on the "man-at-the-front" is interesting, it gets fantastically confusing to have about 6 different front men in a single chapter (3 on each side; who is who again?). I would love to see Mr. Weber picking a handful of these people that he can develop enough to allow us to remember each one and look forward to getting back to their story. As a result of the brief time we spend with each, I find it hard to care about them, or even how the different technologies impact them, which is a shame.

In all, this is a reasonable entry in the series, but has strayed a little from what made the series great in the first place. I'm looking forward to the next entry, and hope that Mr. Weber and his Editor manage to find a better balance the next time around.
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106 of 122 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating, September 22, 2012
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This review is from: Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
I have read pretty much all of David Weber's novels. I enjoy his style of writting. However, I am getting very frustrated with the Safehold series. As a previous reviewer said, how will this series end? After roughly 900 years, the human race is trying to recover technology to fight a genocidal alien species. The series is up to book 6 and we have rediscovered the steam engine. I guess at book 12, we will have bi-planes. When do we get to fusion engines? When do we get to confronting the Gbaba? Or do we?
This book started out okay, but really bogged down. It covers roughly 1 year, and all we know is that Mother Church is even more evil than we thought, nobody can figure out that the side that tortures people is bad and the side that doesn't torture people is good, and not one person (other than Merlin) can spell their name without using at least 1 Y. (It really slows down the reading when you have to struggle to figure out what someone's name is. Is it so bad to say Ferguson instead of Fyrgysyn?)
Please, Mr. Weber, advance this series! I enjoy reading it, but this book was a little hard to get through and I feel like nothing really happended!
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87 of 101 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three major plot arcs of 300 pages, 307 pages of filler, September 22, 2012
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In book 6, Weber got the feedback that long-winded expositions about wind, sail, gunnery exercises, weather, etc.... are very boring to readers of SCIENCE FICTION. Unfortunately, he simply moves that obsession with pointless detail from naval battles to land battles, focusing strongly on the Siddarmark situation. Now we get useless details on pike formations, artillery, howitzers, steam engines, etc.... Once again, I find myself flipping through pages until where the plot resumes and the technical treatise ends.

As far as plot goes, we get 3 major arcs divided into sub-plots. There's the Irys/Daivyn/Hector plot arc to humanize the story. It's interesting but overly wordy because Weber repeatedly bludgeons the reader over the head with the direction Irys is headed. That entire plot arc would have been much better with about 30% fewer pages. But look on the bright side - at least we were spared long meeting minutes. I'd rather read 10 excessive pages on how Daivyn enjoys himself while Irys watches Hector than discussions among council members of both sides.

Then we have the situation in Siddarmark before the Charisian Imperial forces land in force. There's way too much detail on geography and I can't be bothered to constantly switch to the map view to figure out where everything is. There's fewer detail on bloody torture, but Weber still spends absurd amounts of time on atrocities. We get it already, David. No need to hammer it in every time you shift narrative from one combat theatre to another one. The entire Glacierheart sub-plot was boring as heck, even if he threw in a couple of named-characters because it's hard to care about guerilla war in the mountains between dozens/hundreds when we just came from a massive naval engagement of 200+ ships.

Then there's all the logistics. Gah. It's boring to check maps and see why the Raven Lord sub-plot matters. It's boring to check the geography to figure where this Gap and that river is. We aren't all that fascinated by small advances in technology either, especially when we've all been expecting it.

The reader has to slog through about 2/3rd of the book before we get to the part everyone is waiting for - when the Charisian forces join the battle and the superior technology comes to bear in the land battle.

This is the only plot arc which lived up to the expectations of the series. We get a couple of sharp battles where new technology gets flaunted, new tactics get shown off, and some sneaky-deceptive strategy that Weber made his style in the Honor Harrington series. Once you get to June, the action and paces picks up sharply and the book becomes much more interesting.

That is the central problem with how Weber has written the Safehold series. Clearly he remains capable of spinning a good yarn, but it's all the fluff and tedium that's driving the loyal readers up the wall. If this book had been HALF the length with 60 pages of the political/personal arc, 60 pages of the Siddarmark situation, and the same 200 pages of the final third of the book - I'd give this book 4.5 stars.

As is - only 3 stars. More like 2.75.

One last point - the Gbaba has now re-entered the storyline which suggests that Weber realizes his readers are reading the 19th century stuff in order to move on to the 30th century stuff. So I hold out hope that we'll eventually get back to starship and Gbaba War, part 2.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Two words: READER FATIGUE, October 1, 2012
This review is from: Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
I love David Weber's writing style.

There, I got that out of the way. Now let me get on with the review of this particular novel of his.

Given that the entire book industry is in a panic about people trading reading books for surfing the Internet, I suppose it had to happen: dragging out a series written by a popular author so that they can make the most money possible. We see it again and again, not just with David Weber, but with S.M. Stirling, John Ringo, Taylor Anderson, and so on. A good story gets streeeeeeeetched out, delivered in individual books of around 500 pages where nothing much happens apart for some few passages where the plot is advanced microscopically.

"Midst Toil and Tribulation" is another such installment. Back are all the characters we love, complete with the personal interactions at which Weber excels and which we all love him for, but the plot itself doesn't really GO anywhere. At the end of "How Firm a Foundation" (Safehold #5), the Empire of Charis was scrambling to advance their tech in order to be able to fight the technologically inferior, yet numerically FAR superior Army of the Faithful. Five hundred forty-seven pages later in Safehold #6, with some battles to prove that "wow, this is going to be a HARD war!", Charis is still advancing their tech, Zhaspahr Clyntahn is still a rotter, and the Temple of Zion's army is still freakin' huge.

Don't get me wrong, I was riveted to the story. Weber's characters are so believable you can't help but share in their joys and their sorrows. His turn of phrase made me chuckle more than once. I LOVE that in any book!

Yet, as I drew closer to the end of the book, my irritation grew. I could see the pages slipping away, and I could tell it didn't look like anything was going to be resolved.

We wait a year or more between installments, only to have the current book be filled mostly with fluff and very little meat.

It's exhausting.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wait for the library copy, September 29, 2012
This review is from: Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
The actual story contained in the book is overwhelmed by useless and distracting filler. Weber himself has acknowledged his penchant for including pointless trivia in his books, but this one takes it to a new level. And his editor is obviously missing in action because the book is not only slow to read but outright difficult to follow in certain areas.

The best way to deal with this book is to borrow it from the library. You won't want to read it more than once, and it will save you from the frustration of feeling "Why did I spend money on this book?"
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Think Hard Before This Purchase!, October 8, 2012
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David Weber is arguably one of the best authors in this genre. I have great respect for his work and have read all the books in this series including "Midst Toil and Tribulation". The problem with this series and this book in particular is that most of the book is superfluous soap-boxing by the author. It drags on for page after page and chapter after chapter. Although I enjoy good character development, devoting multiple books and hundreds of pages to it is just tedious and makes for a ponderous and boring read. After reading all the books in the series, the events in the story have progressed only a few years and I begin to wonder how many dozens of future books will be required to tell the whole story and if I will actually live long enough to read them all.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I'm going to have to bail on this series...., October 5, 2012
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No one is going to read this book who hasn't already invested a lot in this series. But, I think I'm going to have to bail on the series after this book. I love David Weber's books, but I just can't see spending the money to keep going in this series...there is NO END IN SIGHT, book 6 and you still can't see a reasonable end to all of it. Loved Off Armageddon Reef and the 2nd/3rd book in the series, but then we've gotten more involved in this civil war and the series is just dragging...way too much detail on weapons, battles, formations, etc...there is not nearly enough character development or time spent with the characters we actually like (and there are WAY to many people to keep up with...it got to one point in the book, where I couldn't decide in the beginning of the chapter whether these people were on "our" side or the "other" side.). This series is just not worth the effort or the money anymore.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get an Editor, October 4, 2012
This review is from: Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
I have loved this series since the beginning but feel it is degenerating. The author seems to be caught in the trap that many multi-volume series authors fall into - excessive wordiness!

I'm enjoying the book and about half way through; but find I regularly skim/skip pages at a time due to the unnecessary exposition which is contantly occuring. Blah blah blah about the most boring things. Too much wasted on aimless banter... like he's set a target book size and is trying really hard to fill it.

I really hope the next volume concentrates more on the action and interesting things going on, and much less on small talk.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Midst yawns and indirection, September 30, 2012
This review is from: Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
SPOILER WARNING. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

What I would have wanted to know before I purchased the book:

(1) I would strongly recommend anyone that has gotten tired of the convoluted names (Examples: Tymythy Dowain, Khalryn Waimyan) to NOT purchase this book. The examples provided are just some of the easy names.

(2) I would have liked to know if the main characters I love and care for would make active "action" contributions or become 'back seat' entities.

Sadly, Merlin and Cayleb have become 'back seat' entities that direct others but do not directly participate in events themselves. Honestly, they don't do anything in this story. I'm serious. Nothing. Its not that I'm glossing things over, is that ... REALLY ... Cayleb and Merlin don't do a single 'action' oriented thing in the entire book. They simply talk or have internal monologues.

I hardly care for the new characters that have cropped up ... mainly because reading their names hurt my eyes and my mind. I can hardly get through the names without wincing. Most of the time the twisted vowels and letters UNFOCUS me from the story. I end up pushed out of the worded flow and left to wonder how to pronounce one of those awful names.

As always, David goes into chapter long descriptions of minute mechanical changes. The explanations come either in internal monologues of a person or in technical conversations between characters. I wouldn't mind as much if the explanations were done in between combat scenes, so at least they have a modicum of action backdrop. As it stands ... by god ... these techno-explanations have become incredibly boring!

But, let's be objective. Let's, for the sake of argument, say that a 'techno scene' is necessary and well written.
What happens then? A reader can't understand who is talking to whom because of the extremely obnoxious names!

That problem about keeping names straight persist through the entire book. Many times I didn't know if it was Temple Loyalists or Republic Loyalists who were about to ambush THIS or THAT group. The god-awful names, again, don't help me identify the characters involved because I have a hard time memorizing them.

Then come the unnecessary conversations or scenes.

There are entire skip-able conversations that, though important in their own right, are irrelevant in relation to this book volume. The lack of forward momentum on the main story makes these scenes a shore to read ... even a shore to care about.

FOR EXAMPLE: A certain princess has a crisis of faith. This has page time because the princess is falling for Cayleb's adopted son. I can see the importance to the future of the story ... but I can't bring myself to care one bit. In light of the zero action of the main characters, the almost zero forward momentum of the story, and the truly uninspired convoluted torturous mess that are the character names: Why would I care about this back-drop scene when there is so much other stuff I really want to get to or that hampers my enjoyment?

In conclusion: The technical descriptions lack proper placement so as to keep the story tight and focused. Important secondary scenes become tedious and drag my attention when weighted with the lack of forward momentum of the main storyline. The main characters, which hooked me on the series, are now painted stills that do nothing that inspires me as a reader to continue reading. The god-awful harsh obnoxious names don't allow me to develop any sort of interest in the new characters that come up. Moreover, the harsh names confuse me so much I can't follow the story properly.

This book is a very hard to finish read.

Two stars
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How often do you shrug?, October 9, 2012
This review is from: Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold) (Hardcover)
David Weber is a prolific writer. In fact, he is almost as fecund as Alexander Dumas père was, now that I think about it. For that matter, Dumas père was much less fertile, considering his numerous assistants and collaborators, at any rate. He, David Weber, that is, has interesting stories to tell, the problem, though, is how he tells them. Probably every writer has his own favorite words or even expressions, for that matter. But Weber takes it to stratospheric level. His characters smile (with variations, from something that barely can be mistaken for a smile to showing their teeth to even grimacing a smile), shrug and give themselves a shake all the time. Or on every other page, at any rate. In fact, if you drink a shot of vodka for every "in fact," "at any rate," "anyway," "for that matter," "(al)though" and, "now that I think about it," every shrug, smile and shake, I bet you will be under the table in about a dozen pages. All the protagonists of his books, except a rather seldom appearance of low-born characters, speak exactly alike, although, when you think about it, they shouldn't . . . but they forced to, anyway, simply because their creator has no time to polish his style. In fact, I doubt he even re-reads what he writes, otherwise he would not use the same words again and again and again ad nauseam.
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Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold)
Midst Toil and Tribulation (Safehold) by David Weber (Hardcover - September 18, 2012)
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