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Off Armageddon Reef (Safehold Book 1) by [Weber, David]
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Off Armageddon Reef (Safehold Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 296 customer reviews

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Length: 800 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Weber (At All Costs) launches an epic series with this gripping far-future saga, which springboards off the near-destruction of humanity in a massive war with the alien Gbaba. The survivors of the human race retreat to the planet Safehold, where they sacrifice basic human rights—and an accurate memory of the Gbaba—for the preservation of the species. The colony's founders psychologically program the colonists to prevent the re-emergence of scientific inquiry, higher mathematics or advanced technology, which the Gbaba would detect and destroy. Centuries later, cultural stagnation on this feudal but thriving planet is enforced by the all-powerful Church of God Awaiting. But one kingdom—with the aid of the war's last survivor, a cybernetic avatar that awakens to reinvent itself as a man named Merlin Athrawes—risks committing the ultimate heresy. Shifting effortlessly between battles among warp-speed starships and among oar-powered galleys, Weber brings the political maneuvering, past and future technologies, and vigorous protagonists together for a cohesive, engrossing whole. 15-city author tour.(Jan.)
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: 2357 KB
  • Print Length: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (January 2, 2008)
  • Publication Date: January 2, 2008
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000Q67KJ2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,275 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Keck on June 30, 2007
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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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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3 Comments 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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.
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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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