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Off Armageddon Reef (Safehold Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

David Weber
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)

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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.


Books In This Series (7 Books)
Complete Series


  • 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: 1447 KB
    • Print Length: 608 pages
    • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (January 2, 2008)
    • Sold by: Macmillan
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B000Q67KJ2
    • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Enabled
    • Lending: Not Enabled
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,661 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

    4.0 out of 5 stars
    (253)
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    87 of 95 people found the following review helpful
    By M. Keck
    Format:Hardcover
    "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:

    WHAT I LIKED

    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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    26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Make sure you REALLY like military history February 8, 2007
    Format:Hardcover
    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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    43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new, but well put together January 9, 2007
    Format:Hardcover
    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.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    147 of 193 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars WEBER IS GETTING REALLY SLOPPY September 3, 2007
    Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
    My wife and son and I love David Weber, but this is one of a number of recent very disappointing books that have taken Weber off of my family's "automatic buy" list. Although Weber's action scenes are as good as ever, Armageddon Reef just doesn't work. The plot holes are gaping and intrusive and the stylistic defects are annoying enough to detract seriously from the story.

    The worst plot hole is Merlin, the AI/android who is the story's protagonist. We are supposed to believe that mankind has been locked for centuries into a desperate life-and-death struggle against a large, implacably hostile, but only slightly more technologically advanced civilization. Furthermore, these aliens do not innovate at all; their tech base is completely frozen. Obviously, humanity's only hope is to force the pace of science and technology development.

    At the same time, we are told that humanity has the ability to produce AIs that duplicate in every way the minds, memories, knowledge, and abilities of specific living humans. Merlin thinks, feels, and acts in every way like the real person he is based on, except that he has superhuman strength, reflexes, and mental processing speed.

    So of course, in these desperate circumstances, mankind would use this technology to replicate its leading scientists, engineers, technicians, and military cadres, vastly multiplying the productivity of its R&D efforts and making it much easier to staff its star fleet. Need a dozen Einsteins? You got 'em. Need 20 copies of your greatest fleet Admiral? No problem. Need 600 starship engineers, all with the knowledge and abilities of the greatest starship engineer available? Coming right up! Oh, yes...
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    2.0 out of 5 stars Not a great read.
    Where to begin? I read it all the way through, so that's something. It's just not enough.

    If you're looking for a book where humans are the most superior race in the... Read more
    Published 7 days ago by Matt Osborne
    5.0 out of 5 stars With A Little Special Help...Humanity May Survive!
    OK, I confess, I'm a David Weber fan. I bought the book "A Mighty Fortress" only to learn that there were 3 volumes before it and, to date, 3 volumes after it. Read more
    Published 8 days ago by skipreader
    5.0 out of 5 stars The addictive first installment of an excellent saga...
    Prior to " Armageddon Reef" I'd never encountered David Weber, even though he's amazingly prolific and I'm an old sci-fi / fantasy reader whose first hard-cover purchase... Read more
    Published 14 days ago by BiblioCineFan
    4.0 out of 5 stars It's a very good first book in the series
    Imagine if humanity had to start again, but from the middle-ages. Then think if one group had the advantage of having an advanced intelligence from the far future to help guide... Read more
    Published 17 days ago by sirsql
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great read if you can handle "info-dumps". (Contains critique of...
    So far I love the series, having said that I'm cheating a bit and listening to the books instead of reading them. Read more
    Published 24 days ago by Farbish2
    5.0 out of 5 stars Start the series now
    This book started me on the Safehold series and for that I thank the author.
    Published 25 days ago by Thomas Gondolfi
    5.0 out of 5 stars Honor Good
    Loved this book. This series will be good. If you like the Honor books you will like these.
    Published 1 month ago by Alan Barton
    2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Premise masks bad book
    The premise of this book is rather interesting but the book fails to deliver in many ways.

    Firstly, the main protagonist is as about Mary Sue as they come; not only does... Read more
    Published 1 month ago by graymachine
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Love the series. Can't wait for the next book to come out.
    Published 1 month ago by George Manis
    4.0 out of 5 stars Good plot for a series
    I am on the 3rd book in this series, and am steadily reading them all. However, I can put it down, and have not been awake at 2 AM still reading. Read more
    Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
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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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    Topic From this Discussion
    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 www.webscription.net 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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