Hell’s Foundations Quiver (Safehold book 8) by David Weber (book review).

November 15, 2015 | By | Reply More

With book 8 of David Weber’s ‘Safehold’ series, ‘Hell’s Foundations Quiver’ continues from ‘Like A Mighty Army’ from March, the next month, and ending in October of the year 897 and sejuin Merlin Athrawes discovering he’s not the only active android on the planet. Meanwhile, the war between the overtly religious The Church Of God and the Charisians has taken a turn back as the former has improved their weaponry during the winter months. Not that will do them much good but at least these endless battles aren’t going to look so one-sided.


Much of this book deals with sea battles but feels like one of those old-style war games done on a table. When Weber points out the number of deaths, exceeding half a million, you have to wonder how the Church motivates its people to endlessly go to their deaths. Saying that, it does become a means for some bishops to remove the corrupt amongst their number. There are also references to a developing problem of recruitment by the Church, although religious fervour amongst the people is only referenced. Much of the action seen is that of the upper management on both sides. It hardly seems like a fair fight when Merlin’s purpose is to ensure the Charisians win. I suspect he could do it quite well on his own but no doubt wants to ensure that they earn the necessary battle experience than have things too easy. Saying that, in the closing chapters, Merlin acts like a Terminator in rescuing a family who were informers.

Despite the mountain-load of character names at the back of the book, so many are just cannon-fodder, seen briefly and then forever gone. Even the royal family of Charis barely get into the story this time.

As I’ve commented frequently in the past, Weber choosing to play out this series in real time means he’s often depicting what actions are taking place than getting you in first hand on the experience. However, it so densely written that the emotional content is diluted and you don’t really care much for any of the characters. About the only time that changes is when Merlin enters the stage and, as the SF element, can travel vast distances quickly. With all the maps included with this book, you would think the warring factions would take months to get into position or get resupplied but that doesn’t appear to happen. Sometimes, it would make sense to remember less is more and get the story moving over a longer period of time.

Weber also makes a point of comparing some things to the Earth equivalent a lot more in this book. If it was only from Merlin’s point of view, that would be understandable but as a third person narration to explain to the reader some aspect coming from Old Earth less so. This is many centuries into the future and this is a generation of humans who’ve never even heard of where they originally came from, let alone why they were put on Safehold. If you remember the first book, this was because an alien race nearly wiped them out solely because they had advanced technology.

Oddly, despite its length, you can actually read Weber’s books rather smoothly. It’s only when someone like me sits down and thinks is there a realisation that so much of the material has a superficial edge. You’re supposed to be there for the ride or rather sail than analyse too much. No doubt those of you who are interested in classic old sea battles will recognise what Weber is re-enacting but it’s just so annoying that he’s not pushing this story on fast enough to something worthwhile each time. It does make me wonder what happens when this war is over and what he intends to replace it with. More so in that it will take several centuries to build them up to space travel again.

GF Willmetts

November 2015

(pub: TOR/Forge. 784 page hardback. Price: $27.99 (US), $32.50 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-2187-9)

check out website: www.tor-forge.com


Category: Books, Scifi

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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